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Saturday, October 19, 2013

"CATS™” Has Theatre Fans on Vashon Island Purring

Good Life Northwest congratulates Drama Dock and Director Elizabeth Ripley, as well as a great cast and crew, on their production of the musical CATS™ .

Photo by Tom Hughes               Graphic art by Lillian Ripley

As I took the ferry from Tacoma to Vashon Island on Friday night to see a show, such delightful serendipity awaited. Elizabeth Ripley, an independent musical and vocal director, certified, Meisner Acting Teacher, and Pacific Northwest Representative of Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre in New York has done it again, only more so. Not everyone could take a cast of 41 young thespians (as young as age eleven) and pull off such a grand production of Andrew Lloyd Webber's famous 1981 musical CATS™, the second longest to ever run on Broadway. I would strongly encourage you to make the trip to the island to see it, except it sold out early. No wonder.

While serving as artistic director of Drama Dock, a non-profit community theatre on Vashon Island, Ripley founded Drama Dock's Youth Theatre Initiative in 2010. CATSis the Initiative's sixth production and topping this one won't be easy. She told me it would be "an epic production" and it is.

Every second of the show displayed six week's worth of hard work, dedication, and discipline by everyone involved, but how they accomplished so much in that time I do not know. The choreography stunned. How mesmerizing to see all those "cats" moving together with such synchronization when called for, or leaping, twisting, caressing, so beautifully. The effects of live music, directed by Christopher Overstreet, the  scenery, lighting, costumes, makeup (distinctly different for each of 41 cats), and some powerful singing made it magical. Maya Krah's rendition of the song "Memory" in her role of the old cat Grizabella, enraptured the audience with its beauty. All the singing was excellent. At other times, we gasped over acrobatics and marveled at how well all those complex lyrics were delivered.

I could go on and on, but let it be enough to say that some exciting things are happening with this Youth Theatre Initiative on Vashon Island. Don't let a short ride on a ferry keep you from experiencing what this community has to offer to the arts scene in the Pacific Northwest. Pay special attention to Elizabeth Ripley. Who knows what she will produce next? After already devoting 35 years of her life to theater, she has many more surprises in store.

For more details see Elizabeth Sheppard's article in the Vashon-Maury Island Beachcomber.


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