Ignoring the recent film version, the musical CATS has been enjoyed by millions worldwide since its debut in 1981. Adapted from T.S. Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s long-running Broadway classic tells the story of the Jellicle tribe of cats, each of whom aspires to ascend after death to “the Heaviside Layer.”
Children’s Theatre of Richmond (CTORA), a Richmond-based organization dedicated to providing a platform for young actors to showcase their talents, is proud to present CATS: Young Actors Edition at the PAL Studio Theatre from July 29 to Aug. 7.
While the running time has been trimmed to an hour, director Mark Carter assures that CATS Young Actors Edition has lost nothing from the original version. The goal was to create a comfortable environment for his young cast—all of whom are under 18—to have fun.
“This is the type of show in which everybody can have their moments to shine,” said Carter, who is also the founding Artistic Director of DSR Productions.
“Seeing is believing,” adds Lily Yuan, an award-winning Metro Vancouver-based artist, producer, and the founder of CTORA. “Come to the show, see the performances, and hear the singing in person. The family-friendly show is for everyone to take a break from reality and experience the cats’ world and share their emotions—their joy, contentment, upset, or feelings of loss.”
Yuan and her production partners spent half a year conducting auditions and preparing the elaborate costumes needed for the show. She calls it “one of the most fun teams I’ve worked with throughout my production career.”
Choreographer Ken Overbey promises yet more innovation with CATS Young Actors Edition. In contrast to previous editions, he reveals, this time the audience will see “cats” emerging from everywhere inside the theatre space—sometimes within feet of the viewer.
Each cat has a distinct personality, and Overbey has marshalled his young cast through hundreds of hours of rehearsal, providing them with a critical lesson in the process.
“My dance teacher always taught me that you have to perform, all the time,” he says. “You might have done the show again and again and again. But it’s always someone’s first time watching. Many people haven’t seen the show before and you always need to keep this in your mind.”
Overbey hopes that CTORA’s work on CATS Young Actors Edition will leave people with the urge to further explore and support the arts.
Children’s Theatre of Richmond production of CATS Young Actors Edition takes place July 29 – August 7, 2022 at PAL Studio Theatre, 581 Cardero Street – 8th floor, Vancouver. Tickets are available online from $20.50 – $27.50 + service fee online at ctora.ca