Friday, August 12, 2022

The Rum Tum Tugger gives us a curious look at 'Cats' at the Wharton Center

December 29, 2021
<p>Zach Bravo as Rum Tum Tugger in the 2021-22 national tour of CATS. Photo By Matthew Murphy, Murphymade, courtesy of the Wharton Center.</p>

Zach Bravo as Rum Tum Tugger in the 2021-22 national tour of CATS. Photo By Matthew Murphy, Murphymade, courtesy of the Wharton Center.

"Cats," one of the most historic pieces of musical theater with record-breaking wins and audiences all over the world enjoying the eccentric world of furry felines who sing and dance, is coming to the Wharton Center from Jan. 4-9.

The show, written by the famed Andrew Lloyd Webber, tells the story of a tribe of Jellicle cats with unique personalities and skills all vying to be chosen by the wisest cat, Old Deuteronomy, as the cat to be reborn into a new Jellicle life at their annual ball on the night of the Jellicle moon.

One of the main cats in the show is the Rum Tum Tugger, an anarchic character who is fully confident in himself and likes to cause a fuss to prove it. He loves attention and makes sure to get it.

Actor Zach Bravo plays the Rum Tum Tugger in this Broadway tour, showing off his wild and catty side to audiences across the nation.

“I have so many favorite moments as Tugger, but I would say it’s definitely a favorite of mine as it is for the audience anytime that I shimmy because Tugger has that big vest full of fur and it's an awesome opportunity to go wild with it,” Bravo said.

He said that he is humbled to be entrusted with the role of Tugger and is honored to be a part of this history that "Cats" has carried on across Broadway for the last 40 years. He is excited to continue to tell the story that has been told for so long across the major cities in the US during this tour.

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"I remember the first time I saw 'Cats' on Broadway and I truly felt immersed within their world," Bravo said. "I hope people still feel that whether it's their first time seeing it or their tenth time seeing it after so long.”

He said that even though the musical was written almost half a century ago, the themes are still relevant to audiences today.

"I think it's very clear that the Jellicle cats come together as a tribe or a family," Bravo said. "We’re always there for each other no matter our differences."

Bravo also outlined one of the most revealing lines of the theme to the eccentric show. Old Deuteronomy sings near the end of the show that 'Cats are very much like you.' Throughout the song, the character is addressing the audience, saying both cats and people are alike in personality and livelihood.

"We have our moments of happiness, we have our sorrows, but at the end of the day we all come together as a unit," Bravo said.

Bravo said that this theme resonates with audiences of all ages, yet specifically applies to younger people such as the main audience of the Wharton Center: college students.

"There is so much to interpret, especially with people around our age," Bravo said. "We will get a sense of figuring out what 'Cats' means to us personally."

Coming into another year of the pandemic with "Cats" opening at the beginning of 2022, live theater has just begun to emerge while Broadway begins to shut down again with the emergence of the Omicron variant in high numbers in New York City.

While Bravo said it feels amazing being back on stage after a long hiatus of not performing, he recognized that staying safe during these continuously tumultuous times is the key to keeping theater live and in-person.

"The only way for it to still be accessible is if people still continue to wear their masks and get their vaccinations," Bravo said. "It's the only way that theater can still live at this point."

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Even though the pandemic seems to be looming over theaters worldwide, the cast and crew of every performance are still fighting to be able to do what they love: perform.

"Cats' is a part of musical theater history so I’m excited for this show to still be around so we can present this piece of history,” Bravo said.

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