Theatre for Young America offers a show that celebrates the spirit of love, peace, understanding, and solutions to problems with a universal theme that goes beyond the Christmas theme while incorporating other religion and their traditions as well.
“Three Wise Cats–A Christmas Musical” written by TYA founder Gene Mackey with original music by Molly Jessup tells the story of an alley in the slums of New York City, where residents—especially the cats save their alley from destruction against the rich and powerful that want to demolish the surrounding buildings and replace it with new structures. The three cats join with some humans and work to save their piece of the world.
What appeals to adults, unfortunately is lost on the younger audiences. “Three Wise Cats” aims at creating peace on earth with a celebration of all religions and the idea that all can respect and honor each other. The idea is to come together and celebrate the similarities in people, not focus on differences and division. The idea and message are great. Pre-schoolers will not understand. But the adults and sponsors will understand. The show is not so much Christmas focused as it is to unite in peace and harmony for the common good of all people and all religions.
In the cats’ alley, they and celebrate Christmas, Hannukkah, Diwali (the Indian celebration of light), Makar Sankrati (The festival of kites). Loy Krathong (Thailand’s festival of floating lights), Chinese Winter Solstice, and Kwanzaa. Without researching and making a huge guess, the celebrations all come in late December, near the winter solstice and serve as a victory over darkness. There is also mention of the Macabees and the oil that lasted 8 days. The idea incorporates many cultures.
For this show, the singing and dancing stand out. R.H. Wilhoit and Lauren Moore give voice to the main songs. The three cats, Elise Poehling, Steven Eubank, and Evan Lovelace provide the dialogue and dance. The dances, choreographed by Amy Hurrelbrink help give the cats personality, movement, and some definition of character. Victoria Barbee holds the whole thing together as a moderator and spark to get the various projects moving and succeeding.
The cast is: Victoria Barbee as Maureen, Steven Eubank as Saraswati, Evan Lovelace as Jack, Lauren Moore as Emily, Elise Poehling as Judy, R.H. Wilhoit as Max.
The production staff is: Valerie Mackey, director; Tim Braselton, musical director; Amy Hurrelbrink, choreographer; Alexandria Pilley, production stage manager; Kylor Greene, lighting designer; Valerie Mackey, costume design; Eric Van Horn, set designer/technical director; Sheryl Bryant, assistant costumes/education director’ R.H. Wilhoit, assistant director; Kyra Weinberger, assistant director.
The show is very cute, giving the audience the meaning of winter celebrations. The focus is peace, joy, love, and unity. From united efforts the cats save their homes. For this production, more attention to the set helps develop the story. The set if well done, well crafter and planned. The show is a fun hour to relax in a busy holiday season.
“Three Wise Cats–A Christmas Musical” continues through Dec. 24 on the lower level of historic Union Station. The show performs on the H&R Block City Stage, which is conveniently close to the Letters to Santa space for the children to color and write letters directly to the senior elf.
Tags: Theatre for Young America, Union Station, Performing Arts, Arts & Entertainment, Kansas City Arts & Entertainment, Kansas City, Kansas City Theater, Children’s Theater, Ka
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