A MainStage Must-See- Cats the Musical

Lauren Wildoner, Messenger Reporter and Photography Coordinator

MainStage School of Performing Arts has already produced a spectacular Broadway show this season, Little Shop of Horrors, and since then a cast of 31 have been working hard to perform Cats the Musical. This musical is a look into the lives of the Jellicle Cats- a group of cats that come together each year for one cat to be chosen to go to the Heaviside Layer. This show is like nothing that has ever come to Paducah- Cats is a show that is not normally done with local theatre, and if you miss it you may miss the chance of a lifetime. The music, intricate and beautifully crafted wigs and costumes, and the artistic makeup and set design all make Cats a show you will never, ever forget.


I interviewed a few cast members that go to McCracken about their involvement in the show. Other McCracken students in Cats include: Raegan Archer, Mary Baker, Sydney Carroll, Jasmine Humphrey, Elise Jez, Jaise Leath, Max Medford, Jake Mitchell, Laney Yancey, and myself!


Amanda Handegan, Junior


Q: What makes Cats different from other Mainstage productions you’ve been in?

AH: “Cats is different for many reasons, besides the fact that portraying an animal is very different than performing as a human. When you think of a musical you think of dancing, singing, and acting. This show has no dialogue, but the music and dance require a professional level of acting. Cats requires incredible stamina because as a lead in this show, I never leave stage.This show has pushed me to new limits as a performer.”


Connor Tilford, Senior

The Rum Tum Tugger

Q: What is the process of getting into your character?

CT: “While Rum Tum Tugger has a proud, sleek, persona similar to other characters I have played (Kenickie in Grease, Orin in Little Shop of Horrors), the costume aspect is a pleasure and a challenge all in one; not to mention the fact that this is the first ever non-human role I’ve tackled. First, I begin with putting on my body suit. Each cat has a spandex bodysuit that has details painted onto it, along with arm warmers and leg warmers to symbolize the fur on a cat. I also have a braided tail that not only completes the cat-like look, but Rum Tum utilizes it in choreography. Next is makeup. Creating a cat’s face onto a human requires lots of time, practice, and patience. Describing it is beyond words and it’s something you’ll have to see for yourself. A true performance comes from every part of your body, and the costume and makeup only highlight that.”


Jessie Elliott, Junior


Q: What is your character’s contribution to the plot?

JE: “I play Grizabella, and she contributes a lot to the show in my opinion. She’s an old cat, looking for acceptance to the Jellicle tribe. She used to be glamorous and adored, but somehow she lost her way, leaving the Jellicles. If you want to humanize it, you could relate it to someone that has fallen into drugs and alcohol. This is one of the reasons I think she’s so important to the show and its message- it’s heartbreaking. In her song “Memory,” she expresses her pain and longing. At the end of the show, everything resolves and it is extremely satisfying. The numbers are stunning; everything about this show is magical.


Trey Pullen, Junior


Q: What are you going to take away from being in this show?

TP: “This show has taught me that hard work pays off. This is probably the most difficult show I’ve ever been a part of- not only is the music challenging, but the acting and choreography components are grueling. Though it may be difficult at times, this show has taught me my fellow Jellicles and I that putting hard work and this level of dedication into one thing will teach us life long lessons about performing, working with others even when it is difficult, and making sacrifices for those around you. What Cats can teach the audience is that everyone deserves a second chance and that you can and should have extreme pride in who you are and where you’re from. Overall, Cats teaches love, pride, and acceptance, as well as how to be Jellicle!


Tristan Cates, Junior


Q: How is your cat different from the others?

TC: “Macavity is the master of crime and loves to play tricks and scare the other cats. He is the antagonist of the show and is pure evil; this highly contrasts the uplifting and happy nature of the other cats. He differs because he is a force of evil and he thrives off the fear of his ex-tribe members.”