By Meaghan Morin
On February 28, 2008, I attended the opening night of Elizabethtown Area High School’s production of CATS fully expecting to see your typical mediocre high school play that is good, but doesn’t leave a lasting impression. As soon as the house lights went down and the music began in the auditorium at EAHS, I knew for sure that this was not going to be the typical high school play I have grown accustomed to.
The set alone was impressive and was anything but the typical hand painted plywood set. Because the setting of CATS is a junkyard, it was fitting that Mease’s Auto Salvage located in Elizabethtown donated some of their ‘junk’ which included the entire back half of an old Cadillac. The stage truly had been transformed into a junkyard.
The donations made by Mease’s Auto Salvage to the production brings up another point: the tremendous amount of support the production received from the local community was impressive. I’ve been to numerous high school performances, but this one stands out the most to me because from the moment you walked through the doors at the high school you knew that everyone; parents, community members, businesses and most importantly the students, were supporting the actors 100%.
The amount of support this production received is evident in the list of community business sponsorships in the program and the amount of shout outs and congratulatory remarks that were paid for by parents, friends and family of students involved in the production.
The amount of time that the students, the performers, orchestra members and production crew, put into this production was obvious. Several students were responsible for the choreography and spent hours researching, teaching and rehearsing the majority of the dances seen in the performance.
In my high school, music for a play was usually provided by a pianist or a CD player that had pre-recorded all of the songs, minus the lyrics. But at EAHS, only the best musical accompaniment would suffice. CATS had an impressive thirty-eight member pit orchestra comprised of students in band and orchestra. Each song was just as good as the next and having live music really added to the professional Broadway feel of the production.
Besides the impressive pit orchestra, CATS boasted thirty-four student actors and actresses, a technical crew of forty-one, and a production staff of thirty-one, both comprised of students and parent volunteers. The sheer size of the production was clue enough that this was not going to be the average high school play.
The musical director, Kevin L. Biddle, was nothing but thankful to everyone who helped make CATS a success. In the program, Biddle wrote, “This has been a challenging undertaking, but everyone involved has done an awesome job. I am so thankful to each and everyone who had anything to do with the show, especially the very dedicated technicians, instrumentalists, actors and actresses that are performing the show.”
If you’re familiar with CATS, the musical begins with the cats crawling down the aisles, slowly making their way to the stage. Of course, EAHS followed suit which added to the interactive aspect of the performance. During intermission, young children and their parents were invited up to the ‘junkyard’ and had the opportunity to take pictures with Old Deuteronomy, the wise old leader of the cats.
Despite some minor microphone setbacks, the performance of CATS was impeccable. The dancing, singing and music were phenomenal and never missed a beat. One scene in particular showcased the hard work and natural talent of the students.
The Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer scene which features the two characters, and eventually the entire company, was a display of the obvious hard work each individual put into the production. Not only could each individual act very well, their singing abilities were remarkable.
Overall, the cast of the EAHS production of CATS deserves a standing ovation and congratulations for all of their hard work and their amazing performance.