Don Hoy as ‘Munkustrap’ and the North American tour of CATS (photo by Matthew Murphy)
Growing up at the Jersey Shore all of our network tv stations were broadcast out of New York City. As a result I have many wonderful memories of tv spots during commercial breaks enticing you to go see an amazing Broadway shows during commercial breaks. One that had always stuck out is the ad for CATS. It had an incredible 18 year run on Broadway at the Winter Garden Theater where it won an astonishing 7 Tony Awards.
I think they used the same commercial during those nearly two decades on Broadway, but I never grew tired of it. It looked like such an amazing show, and I was mesmerized by the intricate cat costumes, makeup, and of course those stirring songs. Now almost 40 years later the national touring production is coming to Durham with performances at DPAC June 4th through the 9th and I can’t wait to see it!
As I understand it this production, based off the 2016 revival features some updates to the musical for the newest generation of CATS fans, including new sound design, direction and choreography. But don’t worry, the beloved musical remains true to the original, including the breathtaking music, including one of the most treasured songs in musical theater, “Memory.”
The North American Tour Company of CATS (Photo by Matthew Murphy)
I had the wonderful opportunity to speak to one of the actors from the show coming to DPAC next week. Timothy Gulan has been with the national touring production since its launch in January. While this is his first engagement with CATS he is a veteran actor with over thirty years of theater, tv and film experience. Most recently he has performed in Sting’s “The last Ship,” the 25th anniversary production of “Les Misérables,” “South Pacific” and “The Lion King”. Timothy also teaches and guest lectures when he is not touring.
Timothy has an amazing job with the cast of CATS as he doesn’t play just one cat – he plays four! Each with their own costume, personality, signing voice and story arc in the show. It was a real pleasure to talk with Tim about the upcoming show at DPAC, what it’s like to be part of such an amazing cast, and what he hopes people take away from the performance.
Is this production different from the original in many ways?
This production true to the original with just a few updates for the new generation of fans. The amazing score and all of your favorite songs are still very much a part of it. You may notice a few of the songs are sung by different characters than in the original production. But I think the most significant change or update if you will is with the choreography which now includes some fresh contemporary dance moves that are blended in nicely with all the ballet moves from the original.
What’s it like for you to play several different cats in the show?
Well its both fun and a challenge at the same time and I love it. I have been in theater for over 30 years and I love a good challenge. When it comes to playing multiple roles I just jump right in with each character and become them. I’m of the mindset that you do the thing that is front of you and don’t get lost in what is next. The costume changes in some cases has to be very quick. In fact in one scene I’ll have part of the costume for one cat under the other so I can change quickly between scenes. It can get a bit hot! Ultimately, I relate with each of my cat characters in some way, though as one of the older members of the cast I certainly identify with Gus – the theater cat. He is old and frail, but is a paternal figure and who likes to talk about his exploits from when he was a famous actor!
What fun fact about CATS can you share that many fans might not know?
Judi Dench was cast in the role of Grizabella in the original London production. Unfortunately shortly before the opening of the show she suffered an injury and had to withdraw from the production and she was replaced by Elaine Paige. Andrew Lloyd Weber was still working on the melody and lyrics for “Memory” which obviously go on to be an amazing hit and become a signature song for Elaine.
Why do you think CATS has remained such a favorite all these years?
This show speaks to the human spirit. At its core it is a story about redemption. But more importantly we are all the cats or rather the characters and personalities they portray with all their flaws. The cats all look different, talk different and act different. But those differences are celebrated rather than used to drive them apart. Something about that is very appealing and something people hope humanity can reach. The beauty of this show is that because the characters are all cats, you give in to the creativity of it all and just accept that cats for who they are.
DPAC Ticket Information – CATS
A limited number of $35 seats will be available all-week long via an online lottery. The lottery will happen online only the day prior to each designated performance. Please Note: Seat locations vary per performance and winners may be sat in pairs or single seats. To enter, click here starting June 3 at 9am.
‘CATS!’ opens at DPAC on Tuesday, June 4th and runs through Sunday, June 9th . For tickets visit: https://www.dpacnc.com/events/detail/cats