The Broadway production of “CATS” at Cole Auditorium in Hamlet was a big hit with the community, eliciting rave reviews from theater-goers.
“We thoroughly enjoyed it, and I’m so thrilled it was here in Richmond County,” said Joan Bennett, of Rockingham. “I’ve been to productions on Broadway and in other cities, and this performance was right up there on par with the best ones. Congratulations to Cole Auditorium for bringing ‘CATS’ to this county.”
The national tour of the Broadway show is set to kick off in Savannah, Ga., today and the cast and crew set up shop at Cole Auditorium — on the campus of Richmond Community College — for final practices before the official tour.
The group offered two performances at Cole just days before the tour started, and Richmond County got a dose of one of the most legendary musical theater productions in history.
“We had 2,000 tickets available and sold half of them,” said Joey Bennett, Cole Auditorium director. “I was pleased with the turnout. Of course, I would have liked to have seen a full house but that’s every facility operator’s dream.”
Rene Ward, of Step 2 It Dance Studio in Rockingham, took several of her students to see the show.
“There were about 16 of us total — some with me and some with their parents,” said Ward. “They loved it. We all had favorite characters — Jennyanydots and Rum Tum Tugger were big hits with the kids.”
Ward went on to say that her dance students have decided to learn scenes from the musical and produce their own version of the show.
“The scenery and lighting were amazing,” said Ward. “This was better than the ‘CATS’ production I saw in Charlotte about 15 years ago. It was spectacular.”
Rockingham Mayor Gene McLaurin admitted that he attended because “my wife loves Broadway shows.”
“I don’t know what I was expecting going into it, but it was awesome,” said McLaurin. “The music, costumes and special effects were extraordinary, and the performers were right out in the audience.”
McLaurin went on to say, “I have to commend Joey Bennett and the staff at Cole Auditorium for their work in hosting a production of that caliber. It was a great chance for people in our community to see one of the top Broadway shows in history.”
Bennett said that, “We are really hopeful about getting something like that here again in the future. It really depends on production schedules and logistics.”
— Staff Writer Kelli Easterling can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 18, or by email at email@example.com.