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'CATS' will surround audience in downtown show

Hannah Rose De Flumeri plays Grizabella in 'Cats,' opening Sept. 4 at the Playhouse Downtown. Hannah Rose De Flumeri plays Grizabella in 'Cats,' opening Sept. 4 at the Playhouse Downtown.

Flat Rock Playhouse is preparing to surround the theater audience with the action in CATS, the long-running Broadway musical based on T.S. Eliot's "Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats" and featuring a musical score by Andrew Lloyd Webber.

It's the most ambitious musical the Playhouse has staged in the smaller downtown theater and the theater's public relations shop promises "a unique immersive experience in which the scenic design will be all around the audience, giving the feeling that the audience members are seated within the scrapyard where the musical is set."
"CATS has been closed on Broadway since 2000," said director Lisa K. Bryant. "It was an 18-year global phenomenon seen by millions, and earning billions. However, with that comes a certain amount of saturation and in general audiences were moving on to new pieces."
The show will be fresh to a new generation of theater patrons, Bryant said.
"The music includes a pulsing rock score and athletic contemporary dance is constant throughout. Add in the extraordinary design elements of lighting, costumes, and make-up and CATS is going to be an exciting new offering for our community and surrounding areas."
CATS has won numerous awards, including Best Musical at the Tony Awards. The London production ran for 21 years and the Broadway production ran for 18 years, both setting new records. CATS is the second longest-running show in Broadway history, and the fourth longest-running West End musical.
Choreography is by Jennifer Jancuska with musical direction by Eric Fotre Leach. The cast includes Danielle Lanae Burdick, Matthew Curtis, Nicholas Lorenzini, Emily McLoughlin, Kyle Anderson, Rachel Guest, Matthew Oaks, Nicole Pavone, Heather Siemienas, Christopher Michael Lacey, Maria Rodriguez, Chloe Fox, Hannah Rose de Flumeri, Brian Gregory Gephart, Willie Dee and Adam Richardson, and YouTheatre products Emily Holbert and Molly Bailey.
"I love that we have YT students involved with this production," said Bryant. "Moreover, I love that we've had so many youth involved throughout the 2013 season, which will continue with Disney's Mulan Jr. and A Christmas Story."
Sponsored by United Community Bank, the Van Winkle Law Firm and Audi Asheville, the show runs Sept. 4-Oct. 6. Performances are 8 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, and 2 p.m. Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. All tickets are $40. For tickets call 828-693-0731 or 866-732-8008 go to www.flatrockplayhouse.org.