feature photo by Matthew Murphy
Make a “Memory” with CATS, as the classic Andrew Lloyd Webber musical returns to Philadelphia for the first time since 1999! CATS is one of the longest running Broadway shows in history, with seven Tony wins (including best musical). If you haven’t seen this yet, now is the perfect time. We hope to see you at the Forrest Theatre between June 18th-30th to catch this iconic show.
Many thanks to Caitlin Bond, who plays Victoria (aka the white cat). Caitlin is a local woman, from one of Philly’s favorite vacation spots- Ocean City, NJ. Find out more about her and the show below!
Q: What was your first experience/memory of CATS?
A: The first memory I have of CATS is going to see a few regional productions when I was younger. I definitely didn’t understand the show at first, but I also thought the dancing was incredible and nothing like I had ever seen before. Of course, my favorite character was Victoria the white cat because she moved so elegantly and gracefully, and the lights always caught her no matter what she was doing. I didn’t see the CATS movie until later in life, but again, I was completely enamored by the amazing and ingenious choreography, and fell in love with the show and with Victoria.
Q: Tell us a bit about, Victoria, your character. What is her role in the show?
A: Victoria is one of the kittens in the Jellicle tribe, and throughout the show really discovers herself and who she is. During the rehearsal process, we were each given three words to describe our characters, and mine were innocent, romantic and unselfconscious. Victoria is very pure and innocent (represented by her white costume) because she is still quite young, and nothing bad has happened to her in her lifetime. She only sees the good in the other cats and is very curious about her surroundings. Victoria is the first cat to touch Grizabella (an outsider who was once a part of the tribe) and accept her. Her romanticism is shown multiple times throughout the show, especially during the Jellicle Ball, where she falls in love with another young cat named Plato. At the beginning of the ball, Victoria and Plato are very playful and flirtatious which soon turns to romance during their pas de deux. Victoria is also unselfconscious in that she is not afraid to be herself, and show everyone else who she is. Even in the very beginning of the show, Victoria stands center stage and does a solo, and she is so curious and captivated by her own body that she doesn’t even notice that the humans in the audience are watching her. CATS has so many layers and so many stories going on in addition to the main plot, and Victoria’s story is really one of growing up, coming into her own, discovering herself and falling in love.
Q: You started dance training at a young age, with Atlantic Contemporary Ballet Theatre in New Jersey. How did your long-time education in ballet prepare you for your role in CATS?
A: CATS is one of the most dance-heavy and technically challenging musical theater shows ever, so it is absolutely necessary to have a strong balletic foundation and technique. Especially to play Victoria, who is often nicknamed “the ballet cat”. Victoria is meant to be graceful and elegant with high extensions and lots of flexibility, and my background in ballet definitely helps me hone into these details. Victoria’s solo in the beginning of the first act is all about balance, stability, and flexibility. I wouldn’t be able to do the solo (or the role for that matter) justice without a foundation in ballet.
Q: What is your favorite musical number from CATS?
A: My favorite musical number is the Jellicle Ball at the end of the first act. The ball is chock full of exciting and high-energy dancing, and some of the most iconic choreography in the entire show. The ball is also where Victoria falls in love with Plato, and their pas de deux is one of my favorite parts of the show. Victoria has her own story throughout the ball, as do all of the other cats. There is so much going on onstage that it is really incredible to witness the Jellicle Ball in its entirety.
Q: CATS last made a stop in Philly twenty years ago. This production has been “revived” with new sound/direction/choreography. What are some updates you’re most excited about?
A: There are so many updates to this production of CATS that I’m excited about. The lighting (designed by Natasha Katz) is absolutely incredible and mesmerizing to see. The original choreography, done by Gillian Lynne, is very iconic and in order to keep the integrity of the show, some of the original choreography is still in place. Andy Blankenbuehler (Hamilton, In The Heights) has updated the show and added some hip-hop elements and a modern twist on the choreography. The whole show is the perfect mix of original and updated choreography.
Q: You’re from Ocean City, NJ. Many of our readers head to the shore for the summer. What are some of your favorite Ocean City spots?
A: There are so many amazing spots in Ocean City to visit! Kessel’s Korner on 28th and Asbury is a hidden gem and is probably my favorite place to eat on the island! I also love Manco and Manco pizza (an Ocean City staple), Varsity Inn, Uncle Bill’s, Brown’s Donuts, Hula Grill, Jon & Patty’s Coffee Bar & Bistro, Fudge Kitchen, and of course, Johnson’s Popcorn! I also love shopping on Asbury Avenue, walking the Boardwalk and taking our boat out to Corson’s Inlet! There is so much to do in Ocean City, and I’m so lucky to live in such an incredible town!