Some of Broadway's best dancers are currently fierce felines in the Great White Way revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Cats. Which led us to wonder...how does one actually get in character to play a cat? And how does a dancer cope when one of those catchy songs gets stuck in their head? (Looking at you, "Memory." Or you, "Jellicle Songs for Jellicle Cats." Or...OK essentially every single song in the show.)
Well, fortunately for us, Jess LeProtto and Shonica Gooden—who play the famously mischievous duo Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer—sat down with Broadway.com to give the world some answers. And since LeProtto and Gooden are friends in real life, the interview is all things adorable, hilarious and inspiring.
#FriendshipGoals (via Broadway.com)
First things first: Are they cat people in real life? That answer was a big fat no for Gooden. "I am not a cat person, but I play one at night! I just think they’re strange creatures. They’re creepy. They’re not as fun-loving as dogs," she says. But LeProtto had an opposite opinion. "I’ve always loved just seeing them do their own thing," he says. "In our show, we crawl around all over the place, and pretty much that’s what cats do in real life, so I’m like, 'Yes! You live your life, cat!' ”
As far as getting into feline characater, Gooden says her "cat place" starts in her core. "It starts in my stomach with a contraction and then it flows up through my ears, through my paws, and I become Rumpleteazer," she says. And in terms of coping with that pesky soundtrack, LeProtto says "You just let it ride...after the show, I’ll have the opening stuck in my head: 'Practical cats, dramatical cats.' Just roll with it. It has this effect on people because Andrew Lloyd Webber’s score is so beautifully written and so attractive to the ear."
They also gave some interesting insight into their characters, who are known for their playful pranking. "The number that we do is cardio-driven, it’s stamina-driven, and it’s the only moment in the show that there are two cats singing their song when no one else is on stage," LeProtto says. "I think of them as very adventurous teenagers," Gooden says. "They’re exploring the world, and if that means they get into a little trouble, they’re not afraid of that because that’s what makes their life so incredibly exciting."
The pair also majorly gushed about each other (and our hearts immediately melted). "I'm not saying this because he's my partner in crime," Gooden says. "But if you walk into an audition there is no other guy in the room that moves like Jess LeProtto." And LeProtto praised her right back saying, "I’m a very lucky partner because the dynamic she brings—not just her beautiful voice, but the way she puts herself out there—you know you’re going to have a good time each night."
In other Cats news, the Tony Awards Committee announced Friday that the revival is officially eligible to be nominated at the 2017 awards. ? (As reported by Broadwayworld.com, Andy Blankenbuehler was deemed ineligible for recognition, though, since his choreo was closely based on the original moves by Gillian Lynne). Fingers crossed this means we'll be treated to a catastic performance at the 2017 Tonys, airing on CBS June 11.
In the meantime, read LeProtto and Gooden's full interview and don't miss their super cute behind-the-scenes video below:
Breaking news, Broadway babies! The Cats revival casting has finally been announced—and it's a fabulous who's who list of major dance celebs.
The London Cats revival (courtesy DKC/O&M)
Leading the way is the amazing Ricky Ubeda as Mr. Mistoffelees. The "So You Think You Can Dance" Season 11 winner is no Great White Way newbie: He made his official Broadway debut last year, when he joined the ensemble of On The Town. But it is his first time playing a major role—and showing off his singing chops solo!
The list also includes other On The Town alums: New York City Ballet soloist Georgina Pazcoguin as Victoria (aka the super graceful "white cat"), and Jess LeProtto (also of Newsies and "So You Think You Can Dance") as the mischievous Mungojerrie.
Other highlights? Shonica Gooden—fresh off her Hamilton run—will play Rumpleteazer; New York City Dance Alliance all-star Kolton Krouse will make his Broadway debut as Tumblebrutus; and fellow NYCDA kid Corey Snide, a Juilliard grad who was one of Billy Elliot's Billys, will play Coricopat.
One thing's for certain: This cast of A-list dancers + Andy Blankenbuehler's choreo is sure to = Broadway gold. The production officially opens July 31. Get your tickets now, and check out the full casting list here.
January 1 is the perfect time to hit the “refresh” button on your dance training and shake off whatever was holding you back last year. It might be hard to believe, but even the most amazing dancers use this time of year to look for ways they can improve and set new goals. Here are 10 pros’ resolutions.
Photo by Gene Schiavone
Whitney Jensen, Boston Ballet Soloist
“I want to focus on being more creative in the roles I dance and the way I approach the process of taking on a character. Also, I’d like to start doing more choreography. We have a lot of amazing young choreographers at Boston Ballet, and right now I’m working with Paolo Arrais on a contemporary pas de deux. The experience has inspired me to begin working on a piece of my own.”
Sasha Mallory, “So You Think You Can Dance” Season 8 Runner-Up
“My New Year’s Resolution is to push hard, to grow and to create, whether in my choreography, teaching, performing or personal relationships. I try to learn from every
experience. For example, if I went to my little cousin’s play, I’d see what I could learn from the kids, because kids are always inventing new ways to perform. You can learn from anything if you’re aware.”
Photo by Gene Schiavone
Sam Black, Mark Morris Dance Company
“I’d like to go see more shows. There are so many great shows to see in NYC. It’s important for me to see what my friends and peers are doing—supporting other people helps me to be a part of the bigger dance community. I live in Brooklyn, so I plan to go to shows at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. They host a lot of international companies and have a range from well-known, established choreographers to lesser-known choreographers that need exposure and audiences.”
Photo by Leopoldo Bayol
Martin and Facundo Lombard, aka “The Lombard Twins,” Tap and “Free Expression” Artists
“Right now, we’re writing a script for a feature film called Dreamers. It’s an autobiographical drama with a lot of dancing and it’s based on a play that we wrote a few years ago and toured Europe with. Our goal for next year is to finish the script and sell it. Then, we’re going to go to every producer and production company in L.A., and we’re going to knock on doors and tell people about it. That’s what we used to do when we were younger—that’s how we ended up performing with Michael Jackson and James Brown, and how we got into Step Up 3D. When you have a dream, you just have to go for it.”
Photo by Todd Rosenberg
Alice Klock, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago
“I’d like to become more bold in my dancing, and to do my best with real conviction whether I feel confident about it or not. I just joined Hubbard Street in August, so I learned a lot of repertory in a short amount of time. I worried about doing everything correctly, so I would pull things back a bit and focus more on the steps than the feeling of the piece. By performance time, I finally got to that feeling, but if I had really danced right off the bat and made the mistakes I was so worried about making, the rehearsal director might have been able to help me more. I think if you just put out everything you have in rehearsal, that’s when you can be the most productive.”
Photo by Melissa Hamburg/Courtesy Broadway Dance Center
Jared Grimes, Tap Instructor at Broadway Dance Center
“I have the same resolution every year: to be on time. I’ve gotten a lot better, but punctuality is tough for me. I have a crazy schedule, with training and rehearsals and shows, and it’s getting busier. This year, it’s all about staying on schedule.”
Photo by Derek White
Shonica Gooden, Bring It On: The Musical
“Sometimes I find myself being so much of a perfectionist when I’m dancing that I forget to have fun with it. As part of the Bring It On cast, I’ve learned that I have to find a happy medium between being a professional and enjoying myself. Our profession is work, but it’s also a lot of fun. I think sometimes we think ‘professional’ means ‘no mistakes’ and that we’re not still learning. When I tell myself to just let loose and enjoy a class, it’s so much easier to do the movement. My resolution is to be a healthy perfectionist: to keep myself on my toes and remain humble, but also to enjoy the process.”
Photo by Old Hat Creative
Marisa Viestenz, Oklahoma City Thunder Girls
“I want to run a half marathon. We [the Thunder Girls] work with our trainer, Steve Clausen, year-round both as a group and on our own. He makes us do some tough stuff—like rolling tires across the floor—that helps us get stronger and keeps us in shape. I never liked running before, but I enjoy it now. This year, I’ll follow one of his training guidelines for running.”
Photo by Erik Tomasson
Lorena Feijoo, San Francisco Ballet Principal Dancer
“This year, I want to make an effort to spend more time with people who are important in my life. Every time I do, it grounds me and helps me put things in perspective. To be great at anything, you need to be a great human being first.”