It’s September 26th and there’s only minutes to go until the show begins. Outside, facts are being read to the audience, some of which include a comparative analysis of the success of Hilary Duff’s latest singles. People are filing into the Shiva, not knowing what to expect. ‘It’s a one man production of Cats,’ one tells another, ‘The musical?’ Inside, there’s chairs on all sides of the Shiva theater save for one, where there’s a mop, a couch, several instruments’ cases, and a lift. Voices quiet down when they see Kevin Ritter entering. He’s wearing cat ears, jeans, a t-shirt and a jacket. Then, it begins.
A summary of the plot is provided to ensure that those unfamiliar with the story can follow through this feline drama. ‘You might be thinking it’s useless for me to break it down for you,’ he says, ‘but oh how wrong you are.’ And indeed, Kevin’s Cat develops into a complex juxtaposition of realities that touches on autobiographical notes to the point of existentialism. Forty five minutes elapse, time during which countless bursts of laughter, awkward moments, and flashes of lucidity take place. The protagonist and sole character of this narrative fills the theater’s space with music and movement. At times he sits among the audience, only to be lifted the next moment to the uppermost left corner of the Shiva. He argues with the sound board operator, sips water, then hands someone in the audience a metal triangle. Together they perform a number.
This one man show moves from dancing, to singing, to interacting with the audience with a refreshingly organic ease. At first sight, Cat itself is very evidently a parody of the ‘81 production, but it quickly shifts from a Broadway revival to an introspective journey. Ritter alternates commentary with execution, providing the audience with a close connection to the performer that has become so rare an experience. He is interested in the tension between what an audience expects and what is being presented, as well as our childhood dreams compared to our present realities, ‘I work very hard as a performer in the piece, but, ultimately, there’s some things that I can’t accomplish. I don’t have the vocal range for many of the songs. I’m not a good dancer. But I think that by leaning into these failures, we learn something interesting about what it means to make theater, and what it means to remember who we used to be.’
Cat is an original production directed by Liam Collier, performed by Kevin Ritter, set designed by Irene Tait, and lights by Hollace Francy. It is a Britomartis special event. Future showings include the Bad Theater Festival on 10/18, in NYC’s Treehouse Theater as well as a performance at Bard College on 10/25. Upcoming projects for Kevin Ritter include ‘Vile Bodies,’ ‘Making of Cat Documentary,’ and his senior project, a site-specific sound piece engaging with historical narratives in South Street Seaport.
Use this student discount code for Kevin’s or any show during the Bad Theater Festival!