A Look Into Preparations For CATS

A Look Into Preparations For CATS

Tzipora E., Editor-in-Chief

   By the time the fall play has ended, the winter musical is already commanding the attention of the entire Beth Tfiloh high school. It is arguably the biggest event of the year for our theater department and students. This year, BT is performing Cats by Andrew Lloyd Webber, a classic musical that leaves big shoes for the theater department to fill. I asked various people involved in the musical to give me a behind-the-scenes look at this greatly anticipated show and their intense preparation.  

   As Isabelle A. ‘23, who plays Grizabella, mentioned, it is not the norm for BT to do a musical like this, because there is no dialogue. Many people were surprised when the theater department announced that Cats would be the musical. Cats is known as a controversial musical, either you love it or hate it. Nonetheless, she added it was a good choice because of the low number of men involved in theater this year. Most of the roles in the show can be played by anyone, regardless of gender. A member of the ensemble with four parts, Dassi B. ‘24 mentioned how unique it is to have roles you “really have to delve into” and how it is “a little weird” to act through the role of a cat. Noam B. ‘24, who plays the Rum Tum Tugger, calls the musical “an acquired taste.” Stage crew also has some thoughts about the musical choice. Adam F. ‘24, the stage manager, mentioned that although it is not his favorite musical, he really enjoys singing along to the soundtrack during rehearsals.  

   Cast members also enjoy rehearsals. Dassi B. says she enjoys learning to work together with the whole cast. Isabelle A. added the cast bonded pretty quickly because during the first few weeks the fifth grade musical, Frog and Toad, was using the theater. Cats had to practice in the lobby while parents and visiting sports teams watched as they struggled through learning the basics of the performance.  

   The show features many dances, but for those cast members who prefer singing or acting, the dancing rehearsals can be tough. Add a lack of flexibility to six-hour long rehearsals, and you get a huge commitment for everyone involved. Adam F. described the late nights he is sure he will spend at BT during tech week, citing his one a.m. stay for the fall play. It is no secret that the musical requires lots of hard work, but Isabelle A. still feared they would not be ready in time. Dassi B. added that the actors are really just following directions and a lot of the work falls to the directors, who have to adapt everything for BT’s unique needs in a short amount of time. They must design their own blocking, choreography, sets, makeup, and costumes. In terms of set design, Adam F. hopes to have an opportunity to use some pretty serious special effects in this play. Because of the nature of Cats, the set remains stationary throughout the play, freeing up the stage manager who would usually be occupied with changing sets. He hopes to incorporate dry ice and smoke to enhance the performance.  

   Despite the hard work everyone is investing in the show, they are also looking ahead to opening night. Dassi B. is looking forward to wearing her costume, but is nervous about sneezing or falling over during her performance. Noam B. feels nervous about the dances, which have been challenging during rehearsals. Yet he also mentioned his excitement at having a more “extravagant” role this year, as opposed to last year when he played Sebastian in The Little Mermaid. He agrees with Isabelle A. that the audience’s reaction to the play will be interesting to see on opening night and hopes that they will “get into it” and commit to “the atmosphere of everyone singing and dancing and having fun together.” 

Everyone wants to see the whole school in the audience on February 12th, 14th, and 16th!