The Theatre department at the Las Vegas Academy of International Studies, Performing and Visual Arts is known nation wide as being one of the most prestigious high school theatre programs in the United States. With a substantial budget and a very respectable number of season subscribers, the Academy Theatre Department is able to create productions that have been called “Better Than Broadway” by local critics and patrons.
Every February, the Theatre department produces their largest musical of a six show season, in which there are usually more than 150 students working to create the best production possible. Large main-stage productions in recent seasons have included Les Miserables, Jekyll and Hyde, Beauty and The Beast, Thoroughly Modern Millie, and Miss Saigon to name a few. This year, Las Vegas Academy Theatre is tackling what is considered to be one of the most expensive shows they have ever produced, “Cats : Las Vegas”.
The 1981 musical, Cats, by Andrew Lloyd Webber was the second longest running show on Broadway, opening in 1982 at the Winter Garden Theater in New York City, and closing in June of 1997 after 7,458 performances. Webber’s plotless musical is known for its intense dance and is commonly forgiven for the banausic music and lyrics derived from the poetry of T.S. Elliot, simply because of the shows fun nature. And this version of Cats is colorful, fun and an all around good time.
Co-Director’s Glenn Edwards and Tammy Pessango decided to take the Academy’s production of Cats in an all new direction by setting the show in the historic Neon Graveyard in Las Vegas. Set designer Thomas Bumblauskas has given us a glamorous yet run down look to the setting by creating replicas of famous signs from old Las Vegas that acts as a hang-out for the “Jellicle Cats” of Las Vegas. The set is complete with the Silver Boot, a Lady Luck slot machine replica, A Caesar’s Palace sign, A Horseshoe from Binion’s Horseshoe, a Stardust sign, and many many more Las Vegas icons that can be found in the Neon Graveyard. The characters of the show have also been given iconic looks through costuming by Terry McGonigle and character directions. Personalities in the show include Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman, Danny Gans, Siegfried and Roy, Liberace, Cirque Du Soleil Dancers, Chippendales, and The Blue Man group to name a few.
It’s not just the show that brings Las Vegas history to life, but also the venue in which it is being performed in. Cats: Las Vegas is playing in the Las Vegas Academy Performing Arts Center Theatre, which was formerly the theatre for the original Las Vegas High School. The Performing Arts Center is the oldest running theatre in Las Vegas with a construction date of 1948.
With a production price tag hovering at around $125,000, Cats: Las Vegas is one of the most expensive and elaborate productions the Las Vegas Academy Theatre Department has ever put on. The show is entirely student run and operated and with a cast of 58 singers and dancers, a 34 member pit orchestra, and an extensive technical crew, this production truly gives numerous Las Vegas Academy students opportunities to work on creating a wonderful piece of art enjoyable for the whole family.
Las Vegas Review Journal critic Anthony Del Valle was quoted as saying that the “Fun of Cats: Las Vegas is Infectious”. The show is a perfect family production and like most Academy Theatre shows, is considered the best bargain ticket in town.
Cats: Las Vegas will be playing at the Las Vegas Academy Performing Arts Center on the East corner of 9th Street and Clark Avenue on February 21, 22, and 23 at 7:00pm, with 2:00pm Matinee performance on Saturday, February 23, 2008. Tickets for evening shows are $20 and matinee tickets are $15 a piece.
If you have children, the cast of Cats: Las Vegas is doing a meet and great “Meow Mixer” on Saturday the 16th and Saturday the 23th at 12pm, where children will have the opportunity to play with the “kitties”, win prizes at games, and get their picture taken with the Cats of their choice. Tickets to the “Meow Mixer” are $40 but that includes your ticket to the Matinee performance following the “Meow Mixer”. To purchase tickets, visit www.starticketsplus.com or go to lvacademytheatre.org/cats. You can also purchase tickets by calling 1-800-585-3737.