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'Cats,' 'The Color Purple' bring Broadway to Folsom's Three Stages

By: Laura Newell, Folsom Lake Entertainer
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Lick your paws and follow the pack to one of the longest running shows in Broadway history. The national tour of “Cats” is the only production in North America sanctioned by Andrew Lloyd Webber. With original direction by Trevor Nunn and choreography by Gillian Lynne, this is the “CATS” credited with the British invasion of Broadway. The show celebrated its 30th anniversary on May 11, 2011, holding its place as the longest continuously touring Broadway musical in history. According to Dave Webb, Three Stages marketing consultant, new for the 2011-2012 season will be the reintroduction of “psychic twins” Coricopat and Tantomile. These mystical cats, that are always in sync, were last seen in the Broadway production. The musical was originally based on T.S. Eliot’s book, “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats,” and with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, “Cats” won seven 1983 Tony Awards including Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical, Best Lighting and Best Costumes. In October of 1991, “Cats” became the longest continuously touring show in American theater history. Webb said five continents, 26 countries and over eight and a half million audience members later, “Cats” is still one of America’s most loved family musicals. “‘Cats’ is iconic Broadway, but also at its roots it is based in literature — the poetry of T.S. Eliot,” said Dave Pier, Three Stages executive director. ”I think the show’s popularity is a reflection of its memorable tunes and cool staging, as well as the amazing make-up, costumes and dance movement that transform the cast into felines. It probably also doesn’t hurt that there are so many cat lovers in our world today — perhaps there will someday also be a musical ‘Dogs.’” “Cats” performs at 3:30 and 8 p.m. on Friday, April 6, and at 11 a.m., 3:30 p.m., 8 p.m. on Saturday, April 7. Tickets are $39 to $59, with premium seats for $69. Continuing with a Broadway theme, Three Stages will also bring light to the national tour of the Broadway play, “The Color Purple.” It was 30 years ago this year that “The Color Purple,” Alice Walker’s powerful novel, was originally published. It won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award for fiction; and went on to be adapted into a film by Steven Spielberg. As a Broadway production, originally produced by Oprah Winfrey and Quincy Jones, the musical ran for two years and was nominated for 11 Tony Awards. The national tour of that Broadway play, “The Color Purple” comes to Three Stages at Folsom College for three performances next month. “‘The Color Purple’ is such a powerful, uplifting piece of musical theater,” Pier said. “It translates beautifully — into music, into stagecraft, into the Broadway motif — and will be a special experience in the intimacy of Three Stages.” According to Webb, part of the musical’s power is built from the epic scope of the original work. “The Color Purple” takes place during a 40-year period. It begins in 1911 as young sisters Celie and Nettie play a hand-clapping game in a field. They leave their game, and join the residents of their rural Georgia community, heading to church on Sunday morning. Celie, age fourteen, is pregnant with her second child. The two sisters are separated by their cruel father; Nettie vows to write to Celie, and only death will keep her from it. “The Color Purple” will perform at 7:30 p.m. on April 10, 11 and 12 at Three Stages. Tickets are $39 to $59, with premium seats available for $69. “Early surveying of the community prior to the opening of the Three Stages indicated that Broadway shows were the highest area of interest for our community, and our first year of operations has shown this to be the case,” Pier said. ”For Three Stages grand opening, we had five sold-out performances of the national tour of ‘A Chorus Line,’ and this past fall both ‘STOMP’ and ‘Spamalot’ sold out quickly. For this spring, we scheduled the national tours of ‘BLAST!’ and ‘A Color Purple,’ and then we were able to add five performances of ‘CATS,’ which will also likely sell out.” Pier said he is already thinking about next season. “I’m currently working to book our Broadway shows for next year, and I think people will be pleased with the offerings,” Pier said. “In addition to the national tours, we also have El Dorado Musical Theatre performing four musicals a year at Three Stages — these feature amazing young local talent and are a great value (see story on page A6). Three Stages is an excellent place to see Broadway shows … and best of all, it’s only minutes from your house, parking is easy, and there are lots of great restaurants nearby to choose from.” For more information and tickets for both Broadway series shows, call (916) 608-6888 or visit threestages.net. * * * “Cats” When: 3:30 p.m., 8 p.m., Friday, April 6; 11 a.m., 3:30 p.m., 8 p.m., Saturday, April 7 Where: Three Stages at Folsom Lake College, 10 College Parkway, Folsom Cost: $39-$59, premium $69 Info: threestages.net * * * “The Color Purple” When: 7:30 p.m., April 10-12 Where: Three Stages at Folsom Lake College, 10 College Parkway, Folsom Cost: $39 to $59, premium $69 Information: threestages.net