Jellicle Cats Meet Voguing Queens: The Musical Mashup You Never Knew You Needed

Prepare yourselves, theater enthusiasts And vogue aficionados! There’s A fresh, electrifying revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats pouncing into New York City, And it’s unlike anything you’ve seen before. Imagine The infamous junkyard transforming into A vibrant downtown club, with The Jellicle cats sashaying And strutting their stuff in A competitive ballroom scene. Intrigued? You should be.

A New Breed of Jellicle Cats

Forget everything you know about Cats. This isn’t The same show that graced Broadway for 18 years or The 2016 revival, And it’s certainly A far cry from The controversial 2019 film adaptation. The brainchild of co-directors Bill Rauch And Zhailon Levingston, this Off-Broadway production at The Perelman Performing Arts Center brings The spirit of ballroom culture to The Jellicle Ball. And it’s pure magic.

Jellicle Cats Meet Voguing Queens The Musical Mashup You Never Knew You Needed

For The uninitiated, ballroom culture is An underground world of dance, music, And fashion competitions that emerged from Black And Latine LGBTQIA+ communities in The 1970s. It’s where voguing was born And where terms like “throwing shade” And “spilling tea” originated—thanks in no small part to mainstream drag culture via RuPaul’s Drag Race. In The ballroom scene, contestants face off in dance battles And strut The runway in categories like “Labels” (couture outfits) And “Face” (symmetrically gifted).

Reimagining A Classic

Bill Rauch, The Perelman Artistic Director, is no stranger to reinventing classic musicals. In 2018, he brought A bold new version of Oklahoma! to The Oregon Shakespeare Festival, transforming Curly And Laurey into A lesbian couple And Ado Annie And Will into gay men. His latest vision for Cats follows A similar path, infusing The show with contemporary relevance And vibrant queer culture.

Rauch’s inspiration for this transformation came from reinterpreting The iconic song “Memory” in A queer context. He envisioned it as An anthem for An older gay man in A bar, filled with The melancholy of lost youth. From there, The idea expanded into A full-blown ballroom extravaganza. “It’s A ball,” Rauch says. “It just made sense.”

Ballroom And Jellicle: A Perfect Match

Working with dramaturg And gender consultant Josephine Kearns, Rauch enlisted Omari Wiles, A ballroom fixture And vogue choreographer, as co-choreographer alongside Arturo Lyons. Wiles immediately saw The parallels between The Jellicle cats’ journey to The Heaviside Layer And The ambitions of ballroom contestants. “Every character, every category in ballroom is trying to ascend,” Wiles explains. “The tricks And things they do, having to be street smart, savvy, sassy—that’s half of my friends. That is The competitors I’m competing against.”

The Unseen Depths of Cats

Contrary to popular belief, Cats does have A plot, albeit A thin one. The Jellicle cats gather for their annual Jellicle Ball, culminating in Old Deuteronomy selecting one cat to ascend to The Heaviside Layer And begin A new life. Rauch’s new interpretation adds depth And resonance to this narrative by aligning it with The themes And struggles of The ballroom community.

Zhailon Levingston, co-directing with Rauch, emphasizes The inherent queerness of Cats. “Cats has always been unconventional And experimental,” Levingston says. “Our reimagining is us trying to return to The feeling of what it must have been to see The original for The first time.”

Bringing The Sound of Ballroom to Cats

While maintaining The original’s iconic sound, this new version of Cats incorporates modern ballroom beats arranged by Trevor Holder. Music supervisor William Waldrop, leading A 10-piece orchestra, explains that while most of The orchestration remains unchanged, certain sections have been adjusted to enhance The ballroom feel.

Fashion Forward Felines

In this revival, you won’t find The traditional tails, ears, or leg warmers. Instead, costume designer Qween Jean outfits The cast in high-fashion attire fitting for A runway in The Meatpacking District. Each song aligns with A ballroom category: The playful Rum Tum Tugger struts in “Realness,” embodying macho straight-man vibes, while Grizabella is portrayed as A femme queen—a trans woman seeking acceptance And A return to her chosen family.

Celebrating The Ballroom Community

Rauch And Levingston’s Cats aims to honor And spotlight The vibrant ballroom community. The cast includes both musical theatre veterans like Tony winner André De Shields as Old Deuteronomy And ballroom icons like Baby as Victoria And Junior LaBeija as Gus. This casting decision highlights The importance of representation And visibility for trans And gender non-conforming performers.

Omari Wiles underscores this sentiment: “Talent is not defined by your gender or how you identify. If you have talent, you have talent. You should be given A chance And opportunity to take The stage. We’re not just creating A show. We’re creating space for people, for artists that need that space.”

Transformation And Identity

One of The most poignant aspects of this revival is its exploration of transformation And identity. The opening song, “The Naming of Cats,” speaks to The importance of self-identification And respect. Rauch explains, “The piece is so much about transformation. It’s about characters choosing their names And demanding The respect they are due.”

Get Ready to Dance And Celebrate

With its fresh take on A beloved classic, this Cats revival promises to be A groundbreaking celebration of queer culture And ballroom magic. So, whether you’re A long-time fan or new to The Jellicle tribe, this production is not to be missed.

What excites you most about this new interpretation of Cats? Is it The infusion of ballroom culture, The reimagined music And choreography, or The diverse And talented cast? Share your thoughts in The comments below or on social media using The hashtag #JellicleBallReimagined.

Loved this article? Think your friends And fellow theater lovers would too? Share it on social media And let’s build The excitement together. Here’s to A fabulous, fierce, And unforgettable Jellicle Ball!

In The end, this new Cats isn’t just A revival—it’s A revolution, celebrating identity, transformation, And The unbreakable spirit of The ballroom community. Get ready to be mesmerized, moved, And utterly entertained.

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