REVIEWS: Drat the Cat!

Drat! the Cat! in Concert
Back Stage May 29, 2005
Reviewed by Victor Gluck

Presented by Musicals Tonight!, casting by Stephen DeAngelis, at the 45th Street Theatre, 354 West 45th St., NYC, May 10-22.

Musicals Tonight!’s concert presentation of the 1965 Broadway failure Drat! The Cat! racked up twice as many performances as the original production. Although this Ira Levin - Milton Schafer musical spoof of turn-of-the-century criminals and high society turned out to be an entertaining musical comedy, Thomas Mills’ production was not the last word.

The title refers to a jewel thief who is terrorizing New York in 1895. When Roger “Bulldog” Purefoy, the city’s chief of detectives, dies, his son Bob is given the assignment to bring “the Cat” to justice. Assuming correctly that the next hit will be at a grand party given by the Van Guilders, Bob meets and falls in love with their beautiful daughter Alice. When he discovers that she is the Cat, he has unforeseen problems.

Generally, Levin’s witty lyrics were well sung to James Stenborg’s excellent direction of Schafer’s melodic music. Best known is the song Barbra Streisand made famous, “He Touched Me,” but other notable entries in the eclectic score include the comic “Wild and Reckless,” the rousing “Today Is a Day for a Band to Play,” the pattery “It’s Your Fault,” and the pseudo Gilbert and Sullivan “A Pox Upon the Traitor’s Brow.” Unfortunately, some of the actors had small voices, while others seemed to think that louder was better.

As Alice Van Guilder, the high-society burglar, Blythe Gruda had a vivacious personality and a big legit voice. As acting detective Bob Purefoy, Scott Evans was pleasant but bland. Larry Dagget and Verna Pierce as Alice’s parents, wealthy snobs who find policemen beneath them, overplayed the comic villains. Lew Lloyd’s chief of police was all bluster, while his sidekick, played by Nick Locilento, was negligible. On the other hand, Celia Tackaberry as Bob’s 100% Irish mother and Steve Brady as his dying father were delightful.

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