Cats for Cats

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A clowder of cat fans descended on the historic Orpheum Theater this weekend for a benefit performance of the musical Cats. The evening was a benefit for Kitty Bungalow, a West Adams-based animal rescue that describes itself as a “Charm School for Wayward Cats.” I was completely impressed that “headmistress” Shawn Simons of this tiny nonprofit (and her volunteer cat people) were able to mount such a lavish production. The musical was completely at home in the grand old movie palace, restored for live productions a decade ago. The cast was headed by Fred Willard (who could make me laugh just by walking on stage) as T. S. Eliot reading from his Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats.  Stars in the feline menagerie were Mindy Sterling (Austin Powers), Scott Porter (Friday Night Lights), Paul Vogt (Mad TV) and the So You Think You Can Dance dancers. The show had some technical flaws (the spotlight operator might have been a little sleepy) but the performances shined through it. I was especially impressed with the vocal talents of Ioan Gruffudd (Fantastic Four) and Keith David (Crash, Barbershop) whose thoughtful phrasing and powerful delivery really brought the house down. I tried explaining all of this to my little Russian Blue when I got home, but she was more interested in the Hartz treats from the gift bag.