Sara Alstat, Music Program Coordinator at Rend Lake College, will play the famed “Glamour Cat” Grizabella in the McLeod Summer Playhouse production of Cats this July at McLeod Theater at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.
Alstat (Vergennes) has a Master of Music specializing in Opera / Music Theater from SIUC. She has performed professionally as an actress and singer for Timbers Dinner Theater in Mt. Gretna, Pa., and has been seen in several productions for the Marjorie Lawrence Opera Theater, including Starting Here / Starting Now, Cabaret, Grand Night For Singing, and La Rondine. She said she is excited to be performing on stage again as well as working with her formal voice teacher, Clarence Carter, who will play Old Deuteronomy in Cats.
As part of her performance, Alstat will sing “Memory,” which is forever engrained as a Broadway hit and has been recorded by more than 150 artists.
Cats will be performed at 7:30 p.m. July 7 and 8, 2 p.m. July 9, 7:30 p.m. July 14 and 15, and at 2 p.m. July 16.
Cats is a musical written by Andrew Lloyd Webber, based on the book “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats” by T.S. Eliot. In this children’s book are light-hearted, witty poems about various cats which Eliot describes, and Webber made these poems the lyrics for his musical. Cats first opened in 1981 in the Winter Garden Theatre, and is the longest-running musical in history. Cats won seven Tony Awards in 1983, including Best Musical. Recently produced on video and DVD, it has enjoyed extensive popularity. It closed on Broadway in September 2001.
Cats takes place in an oversized junkyard at night and tells of a particular English feline tribe, the Jellicles, who have convened at the annual Jellicle Ball to decide which of them will be reborn. One by one, the curious cats emerge, singing of their unique abilities and special traits in a fusion of poetry and dance. They are at first reluctant to include the audience in their domain, but soon begin to reveal who they are.
Munkustrap, a large grey tabby, explains that the Jellicle Cats meet once a year to rejoice. He also explains that they are waiting for their leader, the wise Old Deuteronomy, who will choose one of the Jellicle Cats to journey to the Heaviside Layer to be reborn into a new life.
One by one, each of the cats tells his or her own story in hopes of being chosen as the special cat to be reborn. The first cat, Jennyanydots, also called The Old Gumbie Cat, sleeps all day long – or so her masters believe. Next is The Rum Tum Tugger, who is a playful prankster who the female cats find extremely attractive. Then appears Grizabella: The Glamour Cat. Although she is a Jellicle Cat, the rest of the tribe has shunned her because she left the tribe years ago to explore the outside world. The fourth cat is the hefty Bustopher Jones. A large 25 pounder, Bustopher spends his time eating, eating, and eating in the many English pubs and clubs that he frequents.
Suddenly, there’s a thunderous crash and wailing police sirens, signalling that the villainous cat Macavity is on the loose and is furious at not being invited to the gathering. Finally, the entire tribe rejoices as their benevolent and wise leader Old Deuteronomy arrives. The cats entertain him with a special show called The Awful Battle of the Pekes and the Pollicles, which sees the cats dress up as two rival dog factions.
Another crash from the villainous Macavity is heard, which again sends the cats scurrying away. Old Deuteronomy soothes them, as they come back one by one. Now it is time for The Jellicle Ball.
Grizabella intrudes once more, wanting to rejoin her family, but again, the cats scorn her. She is left to contemplate her “Memory” of the time before she left the tribe.
A third crash interrupts the celebration, and this time Macavity appears and kidnaps Old Deuteronomy. The Jellicles must find a way to defeat Macavity and recover Old Deuteronomy so he can choose one of the cats to be reborn.
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