Kansas City Theater Review: “CATS”

  • CATS
  • Starlight Theater, Kansas City, Missouri
  • July 9, 2017

Back in the early 80s, when I was still trying to make a living as an actor, I spent many a day going on auditions. Any time I saw a casting call for a musical production, it always included four words: “Bring music. NO “MEMORY.” Which was kind of upsetting because, even today, I can sing the hell out of that song!

Opening on Broadway in 1981, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “CATS” won 7 Tony Awards, including Best Musical. And rightly so. Based on T. S. Elliot’s book “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats,” the show tells the story of a group of felines who meet once a year at the Jellicle Ball. One by one they tell their story, each one more fantastic then the previous.

The production at Starlight was fantastic. As the curtain rose, a bright moon hung over original production designer John Napier’s iconic junkyard set. Character after character took to the stage (and wandered among the audience), some of whom you know by name. My favorite “cat” has always been Rum Tum Tugger and, as portrayed by Mcgee Maddox, he was truly the cat of the walk. Other stand outs in the cast included Timothy Gulan, who plays three characters, including Gus the theater cat, TionGaston as Mistoffolee and Caitlin Bond as Victoria. Ms. Bond has the most stage time in the show and proves herself to be an amazing dancer. And of course, you can’t ignore Keri Rene Fuller, who has the role of Grizabella. It is she who sings “Memory” and her rendition, especially in Act II, brought tears to my eyes, rivaling previous renditions by two theater legends, Elaine Paige and Betty Buckley.

Two notes here for those seeing the show at Starlight. First, pay attention to the license plate nestled in the junkyard. The letters N A P are for set designer John Napier. The number 11A marks which show it’s from. 11A is modeled after set 11 with one big difference. It’s inflatable, making it easier for touring versions of the show to set it up. Second, this is one time where the video monitors on the top sides of the stage are useful, the close-ups provided allowing the audience to see the small and subtle facial expressions of the characters.

“CATS” was advertised as “now and forever” and, after running for 18 consecutive years (it is currently the 4th longest running show in Broadway history) that wasn’t far off. “CATS” runs at Starlight through July 14th. For tickets to this or later performances, please click HERE.

“Zombie Cats from Mars” Production Announcement, Trailer and First Image!

Early 2015 release planned for new horror starring Portlandia’s Ernest Adams

BURBANK, CALIFORNIA : MWB3 Problems has laid out the galactic kitty-litter for its upcoming horror-comedy Zombie Cats from Mars. Directed by Montetré (Holed Up) and written by Ryan Cloutier, the ‘catastrophe’ – which came together thanks to a successful crowd-funding campaign on Kickstarter – is due for release early this year.

Portlandia’s Ernest Adams stars alongside Jonah Kersey, Stephanie Leet, Bransen Sands Koehler, Julie Marie Howard, and Edward Kopf in fun horror romp that’s part Gremlins, part Critters.

Since it’s a movie about cats, writer and producer Cloutier furnished the support roles with furrier thesps. Marci Koski, an animal behavior specialist and volunteer with Furry Friends, supplied animal talent for the film.

The story centers on Billy, an effeminate fan of vintage science fiction action thrillers. His only friend is Cameron, a nerdy film buff who tries to boost his confidence whenever he can. After seeing a UFO land, Billy retreats into his head, imagining that aliens are taking over the town. Cameron is skeptical, as is the rest of the town. Meanwhile, people are starting to die. First, the reclusive cat lady Percis is discovered mutilated by Lester, the church -­‐going husband of Carolyn, Percis’s depressed caretaker. Random deaths soon follow, first a jogger, and then a janitor at the Carbonics Warehouse. A pair of news reporters shares this information with the public while the Detective and his Chief try to solve the killings. Meanwhile, the killings continue. Billy, wrapped up in a world of fiction, discovers a story in which Martian Cats land on Earth and inflict horror upon the town. Confident that the killings are the result of the UFO delivering alien cats, he sets off on his own superhero mission to save the town.

Blu-Ray Review “Disneynature’s African Cats”

Directed by: Alastair Fothergill, Keith Scholey
Narrated by: Samuel L. Jackson
Distributed by: Disneynature
MPAA Rating: G
Running time: 89 minutes

Film: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3 out of 5 stars

I have been a big fan of Disneynature’s films since “Earth” and look forward to them each Earth Day. What is different about this film is that it is categorized as a “true life adventure”, which means it actually follows a scripted story in a sense within the real-life footage. The film plays more like an action film than a documentary. It is packed with some good laughs and also some cover you nail moments and bite you nails. I think that film film take’s Disneynature’s series into a new direction.

The film focuses on a young lion cub named Mara being raised by her single mother, Layla. As well as a mother cheetah named Sita who is raising five newborns. Lastly we also follow Fang, the leader who is protecting his pride from a banished lion. Th animals are all put in situations where they must figure out the best way to survive. This is definitely one wild-ride and not just some boring documentary. The co-director Alastair Fothergill also worked on “Earth” and brings his unique vision and story to this film. I am very excited to see his next project with Disneynature called “Chimpanzees”, its looks really cute and funny.

The Blu-ray picture is fantastic and very clear. It is so beautiful that it easily captures every strand of hair from our animals as well as every blade of high grass in the Savannah. The sound is also superb and works well with Samuel L. Jackson’s narration. The special features on this disc are good but not stunning. This film took like five years to make so I was hoping for a backed extras section. The first is called “Filmmaker Annotations” it is a Picture-in-Picture experience with crew interviews, featurettes, additional clips, pop-up trivia and factoids. It is easily the best feature on the disc. “Disney & Nature” is quick feature which looks into the conservation projects and theme park attractions that Disney supports and offers. “Save the Savannah” focuses on the fund-raising associated with “African Cats” and their efforts to preserve lands in the Savannah. Jordan Sparks video is included for another song she did for Disney titled “The World I Knew”. Lastly their are some sneak previews for the next Disneynature film “Chimpanzee” and many more upcoming releases.

Disneynature’s “African Cats” Blu-Ray Giveaway [ENDED]

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Available on Blu-ray™, DVD and Movie Download Tuesday, October 4th

To celebrate Disneynature’s Blu-Ray™ release of “African Cats”, Media Mikes would like to giveaway 10 copies of the Blu-ray™ Combo Pack (Blu-ray™ + DVD). If you would like to win one of these great prizes, please leave us a comment below or send us an email and let us know your favorite Disneynature film. This giveaway will be open until Monday October 10th at Noon, Eastern Time and is only open to residents of the United States. Only one entry per person, per household; all other entries will be considered invalid. Once the giveaway ends, Movie Mikes will randomly pick out winners and alert the winners via email.

This coming October, don‘t miss Disneynature‘s latest home entertainment release, AFRICAN CATS, an epic film profiling two incredible families as they strive to make a home in the wilds of Africa. Disneynature AFRICAN CATS will debut as a 2-Disc Blu-ray™ + DVD Combo Pack, a High Definition Movie Download and/or On-Demand viewing on Tuesday, October 4, and is the perfect family-friendly film that provides an exciting journey into the wild while also raising consumer awareness for these incredible animals. For every movie purchased through October 10, 2011, Disneynature will be contributing a portion* of its home entertainment sales through the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund to the ?See AFRICAN CATS, Save the Savanna? effort – an initiative developed between Disneynature and the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) to protect lions, cheetah, elephants, zebra, giraffe and a host other species in Africa. For more information on this release, please visit www.DisneyNature.com/AfricanCats.

Bonus Features:
DVD: Disney & Nature – Viewers get a deeper look into the conservation efforts around the world being sponsored by The Walt Disney Company. Save The Savanna – A comprehensive look at Disney‘s ?See AFRICAN CATS, Save the Savanna? program and its impact on the region.
BLU-RAY™: Everything on the DVD, plus… Filmmaker Annotations – This interactive in-movie feature is a viewing mode with 12 different segments that allows consumers to watch behind-the-scenes footage of the production process and hear stories from the filmmakers and conservationists who spent several years making the film. Jordin Sparks “The World I Knew” Music Video
MOVIE DOWNLOAD: Everything on the DVD, plus… Introduction To Masai Mara – a segment from the Filmmakers Annotations Blu-ray feature Filming The Cats – a segment from the Filmmakers Annotations Blu-ray feature Sophie’s Elephants – a segment from the Filmmakers Annotations Blu-ray feature