The “Cats” Meow


"Jellicle Cats, come out tonight," urges the first act of Andrew Lloyd Webber's feline fantasy %26#8212; and all cat and Cats lovers alike should heed that advice when HITS Theatre stages the dance musical next month. The venue couldn't be more appropriate: under the Jellicle moon at Miller Outdoor Theatre Thursday through Saturday, April 8 through 10, then again April 15 through 17. All performances start at 8 pm.
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HITS, one of the top performing arts and education organizations in the Houston area, celebrates its 30th anniversary this year. This production of Cats is home-grown, cast with 61 HITS Theatre students, all of whom are 18 or younger, with a custom-designed set and costumes, plus fresh choreography by Victoria and Alex Arizpe. Stephen W. Jones serves as musical director.
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Tickets are free while supplies last, available from 10:30 am to 1 pm on performance day, under the canopy at the Miller box office. Any remaining tickets are doled out one hour before curtain time.
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Cats won multiple awards in London and New York in the early '80s. It's the fortuitious marriage of Andrew Lloyd Webber's soaring, diverse melodies with poet T.S. Eliot's Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats. The best-known song from the score is "Memory," performed originally by Elaine Paige in London and Betty Buckley in New York; you might have heard renditions by Barry Manilow or Barbra Streisand through the years, or Susan Boyle's interpretation on Britain's Got Talent. The number rightly belongs, however, to Grizabella the Glamour Cat, and it's one of the only songs not taken verbatim from a Practical Cats poem %26#8212; although it was embroidered together from snatches borrowed elsewhere from%26#160; T.S. Eliot's oeuvre and letters. Other memorable songs are "Jellicle Songs for Jellicle Cats," "Mungojerrie and Rumpelteazer," "Old Deuteronomy," "Gus: The Theatre Cat,"%26#160; "The Rum Tum Tugger" and "Macavity: The Mystery Cat."
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HITS is a nonprofit musical theater dedicated to teaching children the performing arts. For more information, visit hitstheatre.org.
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Image: Austin Jacobs as Munkustrap in HITS Theatre's production of Cats. Photo by Pin Lim, Forest Photography.

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