Gabbin' in the Grove: Buffalo Grove residents take lead in 'Cats' performances

Calling all "Cats" lovers.

Buffalo Grove resident Dave Lemrise is starring in the Highland Park Players' production of Andrew Lloyd Weber's "Cats." Lemrise plays Munkustrap, the narrator, and also the leader and protector of the cats when another character is not around.

"It's a great role for me," Lemrise said. "I've had the pleasure of working with many people on the North Shore for the past 10 years and I've been honored to play a lot of wonderful roles in various plays and musicals.

"'Cats' is so different than anything I've done," Lemrise added. "What's great about this show for the audience is they are really in for a visual treat. One person designed the costumes, another created the designs for the make-up and a third designed the wigs. Everyone on stage has had three different people involved in the look of their particular character. This not a show where you can just rent the costumes. Everything is hand-crafted."

Also unique to the show is that most of the characters are on stage for the majority of the production.

"Cats" is directed and choreographed by Jen Cupani, a Buffalo Grove resident and Stevenson graduate.

"Jen has really put her heart and soul into this show," Lemrise said. "Her level of choreography and direction is quite high."

Jamie Davidson, "Cats" coproducer along with Brad Rose, called Cupani "imaginative and tremendously creative."

"She really knows how to build something very aesthetic and pleasing to the audience," Davidson said. "She constructs a unique effect, visually, and I know the audience will be impressed. This is such a hard show to produce because we need a really high level of dance. Jen is able to attract dancers that bring out and implement her vision. To have 25 people able to pull off a community of actual cats that all have different personalities, well, we're just very, very lucky to have her."

Ken Preuss, another Stevenson graduate, is the music director.

"Our orchestra is fantastic," Lemrise said. "And our stage sets are really great, too. We get to climb all over them, which is pretty cool."

Davidson said the show appeals to a broad range of audiences.

"Everyone from a 5-year-old child to a senior citizen can enjoy the show together," Davidson said. "There's music, dance and verse in a wonderful, energetic, entertaining experience for the entire family. And that's really what it's about."

"It's a nice thing to do as a family and perfect for the season," Lemrise added. "It's going to be a real treat for people to see."

Presented by the Highland Park Players, "Cats" will be performed at the Northbrook Theater, 3323 Walters Ave., Northbrook. It will run for three weekends, from Friday, Oct. 4, through Sunday, Oct. 20, with Friday and Saturday shows at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m.

General admission tickets are $17 before Oct. 4 and $20 thereafter. Group sales are also available for groups of 15 and up. Tickets can be purchased online at www.highlandparkplayers.com or at West Ridge Center, 636 Ridge Road, Highland Park.

For more information, contact info@highlandparkplayers.com.