Cool for cats – Show coming to Sault

Old Deuteronomy speaks to Brian Kelly


Stepping into a major role was just the cat’s meow for Joseph London.

The Chicago native joined the cast of a North American touring production of Cats about five weeks ago.

London, 30, portrays the wise, and aged, Old Deuteronomy, the leader of the Jellicle clan. He assumed the role with some trepidation and plenty of excitement.

“It’s always a little daunting when you step into such an iconic role,” said London during a recent telephone interview from Detroit.

“It’s a little daunting, but it’s so wonderful to have the chance to step into something like that and have the opportunity to give my take on it and what I have to offer to it. It’s such a wonderful role.”

The Jellicle clan wants to know who Old Deuteronomy will choose to be reincarnated. His choice is Grizabella, a feline who is at odds with her fellow felines.

“I try to get that message of forgiveness and acceptance out there, because I ultimately want them to be the ones that decide that she goes to the Heavyside Layer,” said London.

“I really try to put my good and positive energy out there on stage to lead them in the right direction.”

The baritone grew up listening to theCatssoundtrack, but didn’t actually see the Andrew Lloyd Webber production for the first time until about two months ago. “That’s what’s so exciting for me,” said London. “I think that’s why I have such a fresh look on it.

“I am just loving the story and loving the fresh, positive energy that we have in this show.”

Cats stops in Sault Ste. Marie Monday at 7:30 p.m. at Essar Centre.

London is signed on with the touring production until the fall. He acknowledges “it would be exciting” if he’s back in 2011 when Cats marks its the 30th anniversary of its premiere in London’s West End.

Based on T.S. Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, the show’s 20- plus songs include Memory, Skimbleshanks: The Railway Cat and Mr. Mistoffelees.

“It’s unbelievable. It’s going strong. Andrew Lloyd Webber wrote such a great musical,” he said.

“It’s so well-loved by families everywhere.”

London hears comments like that on a regular basis when concert-goers crowd the stage door. Some saw the musical when they were young and are now accompanied by their children or grandchildren. “It’s so wonderful to see that they’re passing down this great family experience from generation to generation,” said London.