'Cats' to perfrom in Pittsburg

Gretchen Burns | managing editor

The Midwest Regional Ballet and American Opera Studio will present the opera “Cats” at 8 p.m. Friday, April 19, and Saturday, April 20, and at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, April 21, at Memorial Auditorium.
The ballet, under the direction of Kaye Lewis, has been practicing for this event since January.
“Cats” is based on T.S. Eliot’s book of poems “Old Possum’s book of Practical Cats,” and tells the stories of alley cats and all their personalities and how they relate to humans.
The musical, which does not include any spoken dialogue, only singing, opened on stage in 1981. The score is composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber and has become one of the longest-running musicals of all time.
The show has been performed in over 20 countries and in about 250 cities, including Buenos Aires, Seoul, Helsinki and Singapore. It has been translated into many languages.
The costumes and makeup are iconic for the show. Performer Brock Goban had to wear a painted unitard.
The painting itself took several hours: Each character has a unique costume that could include sweater pieces and fur. Performers had to attend makeup sessions and tutorials.
“At this point, we’ve practiced a lot,” Goban said. He graduated from Pittsburg State University in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in communication. “It probably takes me about 30-40 minutes to get ready. With some people it takes longer and with others it takes less.”
Choreography is a thought-out process for “Cats” for the approximately 50 cast members. Kaye Lewis has directed the Midwest Regional Ballet for several years and has worked with the dancers through many occasions.
One of the performers is performing the same part she danced 10 years ago as an 8-year-old. Lewis has been working on this production of “Cats” for over a year.
Goban plays Munkustrap, the narrator.
“I’m the one bringing the audience into the story and the lives of each character,” he said.
The American Opera Studio from Kansas City will serve as guest artists. Goban says he is thrilled to be able to work together with them.
“It’s really cool. We get to meet a lot of new people and work with a lot of people that we wouldn’t before,” he said.
Unlike other performances, “Cats” will only be shown one weekend in Pittsburg.

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The next performance by the Midwest Regional Ballet will be “Alice in Wonderland” in the fall of 2013.

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