By Bob Evans
Everyone’s favorite cartoon cat with an attitude, Garfield, with the help of creator Jim Davis and a book by Davis and Michael J. Bobbitt made the leap from page to stage in a musical based on the feline’s unique perspective of life-events as a musical adaptation of one of his lives opened Friday, June 16 at Kansas City’s nationally recognized The Coterie Theatre in Crown Center.
Adding music and lyrics by John L. Cornelius II and direction by Jerry Jay Cranford allows the grumpy feline to sing and tap dance his way into the audience’s heart. Purrfect casting brings huge rewards the finicky kitty’s individuality. Steven Eubank, again start in The Coterie’s children’s theatre presentation of memorable characters. Previously he was Toad in “A Year with Frog and Toad” and led the cast as Charlie Brown in “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” among other.
“In this brand new musical adaptation of everyone’s favorite sarcastic tubby tabby, Garfield awakens to find his birthday – the most important day of the year – has fallen on a Monday. The horror! To make matters worse, all his friends – Jon, Odie, Arlene, and even his nemesis, Nermal – have completely forgotten it’s his big day. Only his beloved teddy bear, Pookie, understands his disappointment. Feeling rejected, Garfield leaves the comforts of home and strikes out to find adventure. Making it as far as the alley, Garfield soon realizes in the outside there’s no T.V., the food is garbage (literally), and animal control is always just around the corner. In the end, Garfield learns little things like, you know, the value of friendship and that “home is where the heart – and the food – is,” The Coterie said of the Garfield story.
The story charms the younger audience but still contains lines to keep the adults engaged. The costumes by Georgianna Londre Buchanan are unique, colorful, and surprising (especially an inflatable suit). Choreography by Jerry Jay Cranford gets all the characters tapping away in one scene. Sets change quickly and move the action from living room to alleyway. The design, movement, and staging keep the audience engaged. Even a bit of audience participation encourages engagement to exercise with the cast.
“Garfield: The Musical–with Cattatude” charms as it entertains. The 55-minute show captures the attention of the audience from the first ring of the alarm clock that awakens the sarcastic pussycat from one of many naps. The actors all play each character with appropriate expressions and movements. Take note of Darrington Clark as Odie. He’s just plain funny. Andy Perkins causes many laughs as the tap-dancing animal control officer in an inflatable suit. Lauren Taylor makes a just too cute and sweet adversary for Garfield; and Brianna Renee Woods gets bluezy with her song at the back fence. All characters bring even more focus on Steven Eubank’s portrayal of the grouchy tomcat.
The cast and crew, as provided by The Coterie Theatre are; Steven Eubank (as Garfield), Andy Perkins (as Jon Arbuckle), Lauren Taylor (as Nermal), Darrington Clark (as Odie), and Brianna Renee Woods (as Arlene). The production features a live band featuring musicians Anthony T. Edwards (conductor/piano), Sam Wisman (percussion), and Brett Jackson (reeds). The artistic and production company includes Jerry Jay Cranford (director), Anthony T. Edwards (musical director), William J. Christie (production stage manager), Jordan Janota (set designer), Jarrett Bertoncin (lighting designer), Georgianna Londré Buchanan (costume designer), David Kiehl (sound designer), Sandy Leppin (properties), Scott Hobart (technical director), and Chloé Robbins-Anderson (production assistant).
Show dates, times and tickets information, provided by The Coterie are:
The Coterie, named “One of the Five Best Theaters for Young Audiences in the U.S.” by TIME magazine, concludes its 38th season with Garfield: The Musical with Cattitude, June 13 –August 6, 2017, in The Coterie Theatre, located on level one of the Crown Center shops in Kansas City, MO. Press Night will be held on Friday, June 16, 2017, at 7 p.m. Individual Tickets: Tickets are $12 for youth under 18, students, and seniors age 60 and older; and $17 for adults.
Group Pricing: The Coterie offers groups of 20 or more a special preview rate of $5 per person the first week of the run, June 13-18, 2017. After preview week, groups pay only $5.50-$6 per person on weekdays and $6.50 per person on weekends (Friday nights, Saturdays, and Sundays).
Tags: The Coterie Theatre, “Garfield: The Musical–with Cattatude”, Crown Center, Kansas City Performing Arts, Kansas City Arts & Entertainment, Kansas City Children’s Theater, Kansas City Theater