Antwayn Hopper, Junior LaBeija, André De Shields, More Will Star in Drag Ball Cats | Playbill

Off-Broadway News Antwayn Hopper, Junior LaBeija, André De Shields, More Will Star in Drag Ball Cats

The category will be "Up to the Heavyside Layer" at Perelman Performing Arts Center in June.

Antwayn Hopper, Junior LaBeija, and André De Shields

Broadway favorites and drag ball legends will join forces for Off-Broadway's upcoming drag ball-inspired revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Cats, which has revealed its roster of Jellicle kitties. The reimagined production will play  Perelman Performing Arts Center as Cats: "The Jellicle Ball" beginning June 13. Opening night is June 20, with the limited engagement continuing through July 14.

From the world of ballroom, the production will feature two-time Ballroom Women's Performance of the Year Award winner (Southeast Region) Baby as Victoria; Dudney Joseph Jr. as Munkustrap; renowned ballroom DJ, Capital Kaos, as DJ; Paris Is Burning MC, Junior LaBeija, as Gus; founding mother of the new Kiki Royal Haus of Silk, Robert "Silk" Mason, as Mistoffelees; Queen mother of the house of Maison Margiela, "Tempress" Chasity Moore, as Grizabella; and Primo as Tumblebrutus, along with understudies Dominique Lee and Kendall G. Stroud.

They will share the stage with musical theatre and dance names Jonathan Burke (The Inheritance) as Mungojerrie, Emma Sofia Caymares (Finding Neverland) as Skimbleshanks, Tony winner André De Shields (HadestownThe Wiz) as Old Deuteronomy, Sydney James Harcourt (Hamilton) as Rum Tum Tugger, Antwayn Hopper (A Strange Loop) as Macavity, Shereen Pimentel (West Side Story) as Jellylorum, Nora Schell (Jagged Little Pill) as Bustopher Jones, Garnet Williams as Bombalurina, and Teddy Wilson Jr. as Sillabub. Rounding out the company will be ensemble members Tara Lashan Clinkscales and Frank Viveros (Camelot) and understudy Dava Huesca. Further casting, by X Casting's Victor Vazquez and Sujotta R. Pace, is to be announced.

And, the "sickening" creative team that's been assembled to bring this new vision of the Tony-winning musical to the stage will be led by co-directors Zhailon Levingston (Chicken & Biscuits) and Bill Rauch (All the Way) and co-choreographers Legendary season two winner Arturo Lyons and vogue dancer Omari Wiles. The team also includes dramaturg and gender consultant Josephine Kearns, scenic designer Rachel Hauck, costume designer Qween Jean, lighting designer Adam Honoré, sound designer Kai Harada, projection designer Brittany Bland, and hair and wig designer Nikiya Mathis. Company member Capital Kaos is also serving as ballroom consultant.

The music department indicates audiences can expect some new sounds in the production, too. Also on the creative team is beats arranger Trevor Holder, with William Waldrop serving as music supervisor and music director and David Lai as music coordinator.

The production will feature stage-side cabaret table seating in the reconfigurable PAC NYC. Non-cabaret table seating is also available.

Most recently brought somewhat mainstream by the FX series Pose, the Ballroom scene is an underground LGBTQIA+ subculture that arose in 1920s NYC, arguably reaching its zenith in the '80s. Home to runway walk categories that invited participants to dress in any number of themes ranging from the extravagant to the fabulously commonplace, the Ballroom scene is also where vogue dancing comes from—but real vogueing, not Madonna vogueing. Dominated specifically by the Black and Latino queer communities, the scene has become ingrained in much of queer and popular culture today, particularly the world of drag. Ball culture was most famously memorialized in the iconic 1990 documentary Paris Is Burning.

But the world of Ballroom will be a new take on the Lloyd Webber musical, which debuted in London in 1979 as a dance musical adapted from T.S. Eliot's book of poetry, Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats. Largely plotless, the musical follows a tribe of so-called "Jellicle" Cats who gather for an annual ball, presenting themselves for the chance to be reborn into a new life. The first act culminates in an all-dancing Jellicle Ball. While the connections to Ballroom culture might seem obvious now, the original production, choreographed by Gillian Lynne, featured quasi-modern ballet-inspired dance and cat costumes comprising '80s-appropriate leotards and leg warmers.

The production is being presented by arrangement with The Really Useful Group.


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