Your favorite Jellicle cats are getting ready to step up their... kitties... and leave it all on the runway in an upcoming drag ball-inspired Off-Broadway revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Cats, playing Perelman Performing Arts Center as Cats: "The Jellicle Ball" beginning June 13. Opening night is June 20, and the limited engagement will continue through July 14.
And, the "sickening" creative team that's been assembled to bring this new vision of the Tony-winning musical to the stage has now been revealed. Joining the previously announced co-directors Zhailon Levingston (Chicken & Biscuits) and Bill Rauch (All the Way), co-choreographers Legendary season two winner Arturo Lyons and vogue dancer Omari Wiles, and dramaturg and gender consultant Josephine Kearns will be 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. Capital Kaos will serve 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.
Casting, to be announced, is by X Casting's Victor Vazquez and Sujotta R. Pace.
The production will feature stage-side cabaret table seating in the reconfigurable PAC NYC. Tickets for this seating area will go on sale February 14 to PAC NYC members at the Builder and Innovator levels, with Vanguard members gaining access February 20, Enthusiast members February 27, Adventurer members March 1, and Neighbor members March 8. General sale begins March 12. Non-cabaret table seating is currently on sale.
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.