It’s no small measure of the durability of “Cats” — or of the efficacy of its “Now and Forever” motto — that after more than 13 years at the Winter Garden, the show grossed more than $ 700,000 during Christmas week. Having been an infrequent visitor to John Napier’s still beguiling junkyard-cum-launch-pad environment, I must say the show’s ability to work its charms on me have waxed and waned over the years.
At a recent viewing, accompanied by three children — aged 10, 6 and 3 — the charms were working, and not just because of my own kids’ enthusiasm, which was considerable (two were “Cats” virgins). For a show that hides its hard-working company behind cat whiskers, paws and pointy little ears, it nonetheless betrays the personalities of those cast regulars who’ve stuck it out the longest, or who use “Cats” as a kind of home base.
Liz Callaway and Ken Prymus, in particular, have stamped their own considerable personalities on the roles of Grizabella, the Glamour Cat, and Old Deuteronomy, respectively. They add considerable warmth to the proceedings. The production was in top shape, the rest of the company fine, if not electrifying: Steve Ochoa is completely unobjectionable as Mr. Mistoffelees, for example, but I missed the sexy combination of impishness and danger that Gen Horiuchi brought to the role. Nevertheless, even to be talking about roles in the context of “Cats” is some sort of tribute.