Memory. Not alone in the moonlight.
"Cats," Andrew Lloyd Webber's 1982 Broadway musical smash based on "Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats" by T.S. Eliot, long featured a set of twin cats. Coricopat and Tantomile were slightly psychic. They sensed what was about to come a couple of beats ahead of the other cats.
But as the years went by and tours got leaner, the twins, who had no vocal solo, disappeared to save money. American audiences haven't seen them since the version on Broadway closed in 2000.
Now they're back, thanks to a chance conversation national tour director-choreographer Richard Stafford had with the show's original choreographer, Gillian Lynne, and her assistant, Jo-Anne Robinson, in London in late 2010.
"Jo-Anne was surprised the twins had disappeared in the U.S.," Stafford said. "She suggested a solution, and the twins returned with this tour."
Stafford, who was dance captain with the first national tour of "Cats" in 1985, played one of the twins back then and has been involved with the musical ever since. He has restaged it, following Lynne's and director Trevor Nunn's template, in regional theaters and international productions, most recently in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Rio de Janeiro.
This national tour opened in December and is booked at least through June.
"The twins add a greater sense of diversity within the tribe," Stafford said from his Manhattan apartment on the Upper West Side, overlooking a canyon of skyscrapers. "They were ethereal, almost spooky. They add depth to the mystery of the show. If you're looking, that psychic sense is there in almost every scene."
Stafford said fans who know the show well have responded positively to the twins, "like a return of old friends," while audiences new to "Cats" get the added depth provided by their presence.
"It's that twin connection we understand as humans," Stafford said. "That's part of the fabric of the show."
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