The big cats will be on the prowl April 22, so grab the music lovers in your family and head for the Toyota Center for an evening with one of Broadway's most successful musicals -- CATS.
And this show will be totally different from the last production of CATS that came through town in 2007, though the characters and Andrew Lloyd Webber's music remain the same, said cast member Zach Hess.
"The story line changes every time a new show goes out on the road," Hess said in a telephone interview with the Herald. "It keeps it more interesting for the audience."
He says there'll be more of a tribal feel to this new production.
Hess is reprising the role of the show's narrator, Munkustrap, who is a black and silver tomcat prone to storytelling and a fierce protector of the Jellicle tribe of cats.
CATS, the second-longest running play on Broadway, is based on T.S. Eliot's book, Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats. It opened New York's West End in 1981 and moved to Broadway in 1982.
It went on to win the Laurence Olivier Award and Tony Award for best musical, and ran for 18 years. The London version of the show ran for 21 years.
Hess said that to prepare himself to portray a cat, he spent several weeks watching cats out in the world. But what was even more intriguing about watching the mystique of cats roam the street, he added, was that his fellow cast members behave like cats during rehearsals.
"We had to take part in a four-week salinity class to prepare for our roles as cats," Hess said. The class focused on a cat's need to lap at salty surfaces, including human skin.
"We also wore knee pads for weeks," he said.
And it's as exhausting to put all the makeup on every night as it is to jump around the stage like a cat, he added.
CATS, a Troika Entertainment production, ended its Broadway run in September 2000 and has been a successful traveling show every since. In 1983, it also earned Tony Awards for best musical, best book of a musical, best lighting and best costumes.
The music of CATS continues its high energy that compels its audiences to get caught up in the world of cats.
Not only has the production been performed around the world and translated into more than 20 languages, it also was turned into a TV movie in 1998.
As Hess puts it, "CATS is still an awe-inspiring and revolutionary show."
Showtime is 8 p.m. Tickets cost $32 to $62 and are available at the Toyota Center box office or www.ticketmaster.com.
*Dori O'Neal: 582-1514; firstname.lastname@example.org