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Students Bring Many Talents to Hatfield Hall Stage for ‘Cats’ Musical
May 6, 2014
Purr-fect Costumes: Makeup and costumes transform Rose-Hulman students into the roles of Jellicle cats in the drama club’s musical production of “Cats” at the Hatfield Hall Theater. (Photos by Nate Montgomery)
A tribute to T.S. Eliot’s whimsical feline poetry comes to life in the form of one of the best-known modern musicals when the Rose-Hulman Drama Club presents “Cats”—the story of the annual gathering of Jellicle cats in a show for all ages.
The original production opened at London’s New London Theatre in 1981 and ran for a record-setting 21 years. The musical’s London success was nearly matched on Broadway, where it ran for just over 18 years.
“Cats” features unforgettable music, including the immortal ballad “Memory.”
This weekend, drama club members, orchestra members, and technicians will present the musical at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, May 9, and Saturday, May 10, in the Hatfield Hall Theater. The production is part of the student performing arts groups on campus.
Senior electrical engineering major Chris O’Daniel plays the lead role of Rum Tum Tugger, a flashy tom cat with a rebellious nature.
“He is an independent ladies man who is narcissistic, vain, and never impressed,” says O’Daniel.
The Rosemount, Minnesota, native is a veteran of drama club productions, having performed in 10 shows during his college career. He began acting in the seventh grade with the role of JoJo in “Seussical the Musical,” and performed in 14 shows throughout high school.
Though O’Daniel has played characters ranging from an evil corporate leader to a superhero, it’s clear that he relishes his final role on the Hatfield Hall stage.
“Being a ladies man is always enjoyable and entertaining, and the different depths of this character really bring a more enjoyable level to performing. Personally, I enjoy acting this way in real life as well,” he says, “and many said that I was type-cast in this role, which, of course, I agreed with.”
Director Bunny Nash adds, “We chose this show specifically for students like Chris. He’s such a great dancer and the show is so dance-heavy that it really gives him a chance to shine.”
O’Daniel will be commissioned as Air Force second lieutenant later this month.
Rum Tum Tugger’s biggest fan is the kitten Emidia, played by freshman Angela Hanson.
Talented Students: Dancing, singing, and acting are skills filling the Hatfield Hall Theater stage for the Rose-Hulman Drama Club’s musical “Cats.” Students are also featured in the show’s orchestra and technical crew.
“I grew up watching ‘Cats’ on a VHS tape,” she states. “I watched it so many times that I memorized most of the lyrics and wore out the VHS tape. The last five minutes of the show are now missing from the tape so it was fun to relearn the finale for this production.”
A mathematics and economics double major from Terre Haute, Hanson also brings a background in dance to her role. She studied at the local Academy of Dance with Patti Willey, the choreographer for “Cats.”
“The only other musical production that I was a part of was ‘Oklahoma’ when I was a sophomore in high school,” Hanson says. “I have also been in dance recitals since the fourth grade. My favorite show for Patti was probably ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.’ I was the understudy for Willy Wonka and three different Oompa Loompas.”
This show, she states, is unlike any show she’s ever done.
“‘Cats’ has a simple plot with a variety of characters. The many characters in this show are singing and dancing together throughout the show, rather than the traditional handful of character performing at a time. I like the camaraderie of having everyone on stage at once.”
She adds, “Overall, this show has been a blast to rehearse, and I am sure that it will be just as fun to watch.”
Tickets may be purchased in person, by calling the Hatfield Hall ticket desk at 812-877-8544 or at www.hatfieldhall.com. Ticket desk hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays, noon to 5 p.m. Saturday, and two hours before each event. Find exclusive behind-the-scenes photos and more at facebook.com/HatfieldHall.