Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Alpha/Omega Players deliver a ‘Memorable’ production of ‘Cats’

By Cheryl Thornburg
Spectacular choreography and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s incredible music make Alpha/Omega Players current production “Memorable.”
The ability of this company to produce really big shows on a not-so-big stage is sheer genius. “Cats,” with its huge dance numbers had to be a particular challenge, but choreographer and director, Melissa Kauffman more than met the challenge.
The storyline that loosely connects the musical numbers is really a frame for the portraits of various unique “cats,” as envisioned in T.S. Eliot’s  “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats.” The musical “portraits” provide ample opportunities for Berks County’s singers and dancers to showcase their talents.
Maria Damore as Grizabella the aging Glamour Cat, delivers the now-standard “Memory,” with elegance and passion. The song will haunt you long after the show is over – particularly since you hear it more than once. In the second act, Maria is joined by Olivia Damore as Jemima in a reprise of this exquisite melody.
Keeping the spotlight performances in the family, James Damore turns in a rollicking turn as  Mungojerrie with Mandalee Flannery as Rumpleteezer in the appropriately named “Mungojerrie and Rumpleteezer.” The two are a triple threat with singing, dancing and comedy rolled into one just- plain-fun- to-watch number.
Assistant director Mark Drey turns in a dramatic version of Old Deuteronomy, the revered leader of the Jellicle cat clan and shows off his vocal skills in “The Moments of Happiness” and “The Ad-dressing of Cats” in the second act.
Jacob Cowan’s Munkustrap, is at the heart of many of the numbers and deservedly so. His vocal talents are showcased in “”The Old Gumbie Cat,”  “Old Deuteronomy,” and “The Battle of the Peeks and the Pollicles.”
The role of Mr. Mistoffelees, demands a superlative dancer and Josh Bellamy doesn’t disappoint.  On several occasions at Sunday’s performance, the audience burst into applause at his mesmerizing spins and leaps. His duet with Brianna Hafer as Victoria was another highpoint of the show.
Other standout performances came from James Barksdale as Macavity, Chris Weiss as Bustopher Jones, and Stephen Barszowski as The Rum Tum Tugger,
But to be honest, the entire cast gives standout performances, delivering the high-energy, intricate dance numbers with such precision and synchronicity, that it is obvious that countless hours of rehearsals and dedication went  into  this show. They are Sarah Wisser as Bombalurina, Melissa Kaufmann as Demeter, Stephanie Bricker as Jellylorum, Amanda Delbo as Griddlebone, Gordon Joyner as Growltiger, Deb Kasdras as Jenny Any Dotts, Tyler Ravert as Skimbleshanks, Julian Morales as Alonzo, Mary Britton as Carbucketty, Megan Centeno as Cassandra, Amy Swartz as Coricopat, Kirsten Heim as Pouncival, Meghan O’Neill as Tantomile, Meghan Austin as Electra, Krista Grevas as Etcetera, Allison Gieringer as Exotica, Nicole Greenfield as Tumblebrutus and Molly O’Brian Sillabub.
Musical director and conductor of the 16-piece pit orchestra for tis show is Nathan Patton. The unseen orchestra sets the tone for every number without overpowering the singers. The set was designed by Mark Drey, Gordon Joyner and William Eschbach, and the producer is Kerry Drey.
Remaining performances are Aug. 9 and 10 at 8 p.m. and Aug. 11 at 3 p.m. in the Alpha/Omega Performing Arts Center, 301 E. First St., Birdsboro. Due to the show’s popularity, Alpha/Omega has scheduled an additional performance on Thursday Aug. 8 at 7:30 p.m.  For more information or to order tickets, call 610-404-4844 or visit www.alphaomegaplayers.org.


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