Reviews: What Do Critics Think of Cats: 'The Jellicle Ball' at Perelman Performing Arts Center? | Playbill

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The Verdict Reviews: What Do Critics Think of Cats: 'The Jellicle Ball' at Perelman Performing Arts Center?

Inspired by the underground world of ballroom, the reimagined revival officially opened Off-Broadway June 20.

Company of CATS: "The Jellicle Ball" at Perelman Performing Arts Center (PAC NYC). Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman

Perelman Performing Arts Center's drag ball-inspired revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Cats officially opened at the Off-Broadway venue June 20 after beginning previews June 13, and the reviews are rolling in. The already extended run is set to continue through July 28. PAC NYC Artistic Director Bill Rauch and Zhailon Levingston are co-directing.

The cast, comprising a mix of both ballroom and musical theatre favorites, includes Baby as Victoria, Jonathan Burke as Mungojerrie, André De Shields as Old Deuteronomy, Sydney James Harcourt as Rum Tum Tugger, Antwayn Hopper as Macavity, Dava Huesca as Rumpleteaser, Dudney Joseph Jr. as Munkustrap, Capital Kaos as DJ, Junior LaBeija as Gus, Robert "Silk" Mason as Mistoffelees, "Tempress" Chasity Moore as Grizabella, Shereen Pimentel as Jellylorum, Primo as Tumblebrutus, Xavier Reyes as Jennyanydots, Nora Schell as Bustopher Jones, Bebe Nicole Simpson as Demeter, Emma Sofia as Skimbleshanks, Garnet Williams as Bombalurina, and Teddy Wilson, Jr. as Sillabub. The ensemble includes Tara lashan Clinkscales, Phumzile Sojola, Kendall Grayson Stroud, and Frank Viveros, with understudies Shelby Griswold and Dominique Lee rounding out the company.

Read the reviews below.

Chicago Tribune (Chris Jones)*

CitiTourNYC (Brian Scott Lipton)

Exeunt NYC (Lane Williamson)

New York Daily News (Chris Jones)*

New York Post (Johnny Oleksinski)

New York Stage Review (Melissa Rose Bernardo)

New York Theatre Guide (Kyle Turner)

The New York Times (Jesse Green)*

Queerty (Matthew Wexler)

TheaterMania (Zachary Stewart)

TimeOut NY (Adam Feldman)

The Wrap (Robert Hofler)

*This review may require creating a free account or a paid subscription.

Playbill will continue to update this list as reviews come in.

Casting is by X Casting's Victor Vazquez and Sujotta R. Pace.

The creative team includes co-choreographers Legendary season two winner Arturo Lyons and vogue dancer Omari Wiles, 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 and 2024 Special Tony Award recipient Nikiya Mathis. Company member Capital Kaos is also serving as ballroom consultant.

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.

READ: In This New Cats Revival, It's Jellicle Songs for Voguers and Femme Queens

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. Lloyd Webber has previously announced that he will donate his royalties from the production to the American Theatre Wing's Andrew Lloyd Webber Initiative and PAC NYC.


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