Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Philadelphia

National Tour
Review by Rebecca Rendell

The Cast
Photo by Photo Credit: Matthew Murphy
The national tour of Cats recently clawed, pounced, stretched and pawed its way through Philadelphia's Miller Theater, presented by the Kimmel Cultural Campus and The Shubert Organization. Electrifyingly energetic, beautifully danced, and dazzlingly staged, this production–easily the best Cats I have ever experienced–was good enough to make even a skeptic purr.

With music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and based on T.S. Eliot's "Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats" poetry, the original production of Cats ran on Broadway for a staggering 18 years. This touring production felt slicker than the original, more extravagant, and faster paced, but the story is the same. The Jellicle Cats have gathered in the junkyard for their annual ball. They will celebrate all things feline and Jellicle all night long, and in the early morning their beloved leader will choose one cat to ascend to the heavyside layer and be reincarnated as another cat. This production has a clearer narrative line than the original, a welcome improvement, but it is still more of a musical revue than a show with a normal story arc. Each of the songs talks about what Jellicle cats are like or tells the story of one or two particular Jellicle cats.

The entire non-Equity ensemble sparkled, thanks to Andy Blankenbuehler's dynamic choreography and John Napier's elaborate costume design. Tayler Harris gave an exceptional and moving performance as Grizabella the glamour cat. Her rendition of "Memory" was touchingly authentic. Taryn Smithson and Brian Craig Nelson were amusing and memorable as mischievous wild cats Rumpleteazer and Mungojerrie. The pair shared a fun energy that was delightful without ever being corny or too over-the-top. However, it was Ibn Snell as Mr. Mistoffelees who absolutely stole the show. With amble charm and impossibly athletic dance moves, Snell's breathtaking turn absolutely captivated the entire audience.

If you have never seen Cats before, this tour is the best possible introduction to this impossibly popular musical spectacular. If you already love Cats, these felines will absolutely knock you off your feet.

Cats ran from March 14-19, 2023, at The Kimmel Cultural Campus, 300 S Broad St, Philadelphia PA. For more information on the tour, please visit

Gracie Anderson: Dance Captain/Swing
Megan Arseneau: Swing
Sam Bello: Sillabub
Luke Bernier: Swing
Lexy Bittner: Cassandra
John Anker Bow: Bustopher Jones / Gus / Peter
Sam Buchanan: Plato / Macavity
Michelle E Carter: Jennyanydots
Ellie Chancellor: Swing
Erica Lee Cianciulli: Bombalurina
Max Craven: Swing
Reagan Davidson: Tantomile
Nora Degreen: Demeter
Allyson Duarte: Jellylorum
Dominic Fortunato: Pouncival
Sammy Fossum: Alonzo
Marisa Paull Gorst: Swing / Assistant Stage Manager
Rachael Haber: Cats Chorus
Tayler Harris: Grizabella
Clara Hevia: Swing
Wilson Livingston: Coricopat
Kieran Macdonald: Dance Captain/Male Swing
José Raúl Mangual: Swing
Brendan Moran: Tumblebrutus
Tony Mowatt: Swing
Brian Craig Nelson: Mungojerrie
Yuka Notsuka: Victoria
Taylor Rosenberger: Swing
Hank Santos: Rum Tum Tugger
Cameron Schutza: Old Deuteronomy
Taryn Smithson: Rumpleteazer
Ibn Snell: Mistoffelees
Kade Wright: Munkustrap
John Zamborsky: Skimbleshanks

Trevor Nunn: Director
John Napier: Scenic & Costume Design
Natasha Katz: Lighting Design
Mick Potter: Sound Design
Andy Blankenbuehler: Choreographer (choreography is based on the original choreography by Gillian Lynne)