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:
(From left) Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland (all photos by Erin Baiano)
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Isabella Boylston in "The Bright Stream" (Rosalie O'Connor, courtesy American Ballet Theatre)
Beloved by ballet fans for her lucid technique and onstage effervescence, by her Instagram followers for the deftly curated photos and videos she shares of her glamorous life, and by fangirl Jennifer Garner for all of the above, American Ballet Theatre principal Isabella Boylston is one of the rare ballet stars who's achieved mainstream fame. A native of Sun Valley, ID, Boylston trained at the Academy of Colorado Ballet and the Harid Conservatory before joining the ABT Studio Company in 2005. She entered the main company as an apprentice in 2006, and attained principal status in 2014. In addition to her successes with ABT, where she dances nearly every major ballerina role, Boylston has served as artistic director of the annual Ballet Sun Valley Festival, which brings high-level performances and classes to her hometown. And speaking of famous Jennifers: Boylston recently appeared as Jennifer Lawrence's dance double in the film Red Sparrow. Catch her onstage with ABT as Manon, Odette/Odile, and Princess Aurora during the company's Metropolitan Opera House season this summer in NYC. —Margaret Fuhrer