Also: Cornish Dance Theater and Jarrad Powell & Jessika Kenney


In the early '80s, Cats pierced proscenium arches and blew out back walls of theatres on both sides of the Atlantic. The Andrew Lloyd Webber monster-hit didn't trouble itself with dialogue—and a good thing, too, given the paucity of its storyline—or with musical revelation. Instead, audacious production values and stage-expanding antics fueled the show, spawned the audiences, and propelled the world-wide industry that became Cats. In the intervening decades, we've been Cirque de Soleiled, Les Mized, and Blue Man Grouped. As a result, mainstream spectacles must be ever more spectacular. Steve Tomkins' current production of the feline fantasy at the Village Theatre sates some of that craving for the fabulous but is a bit too tame to satisfy it completely. The flashy opening replete with lights, lights, lights and the creeping entrances of the Jellicle Cats—decked out in glam wigs and Melanie Burgess's spangly, form-fitting costumes—gets things off to a dynamic start. The actors leap into the laps of the polite Issaquah audience, promising an exuberant evening of paws-on entertainment. But regrettably, the felines beat a hasty retreat to the stage, and with everybody safely back in their places, the show strains to connect its pulse to that of the audience. Marc delaCruz (Munkustrap), Kari Lee Cartwright (Rumpleteazer), and Vicki Noon (Demeter) are stand-outs with their expressive song and dance routines. The company numbers are lively and precise, the acrobatics suffice, and the Uber-tune "Memory" is powerfully belted out by Karen Kaiser's Grizabella; but the vibe has to travel coast-to-coast (or at least stage-to-seats) before it reaches us, and sometimes its jetlag shows. Francis J. Gaudette Theatre, 303 Front St. N., Issaquah, 425-392-2202 or $24-$48. Various days and times. Ends Sat. Dec. 31. Also: Everett Performing Arts Center, 2710 Wetmore Ave.,

425-257-8600 or $20-$44. Opens Fri. Jan. 6, 2006. Various days and times. Ends Sun. Jan. 22, 2006. DEBORAH FROCKT

Cornish Dance Theater

Music students practice their chops on Beethoven and Mozart, wannabe actors stand and deliver Shakespeare. In dance it's usually a different story, as young artists wind up performing work made on them rather than one of the classics. Cornish College offers an exception to that rule this weekend, with a seminal work by a seminal choreographer—Martha Graham's 1948 Diversion of Angels. It's a gloriously beautiful work about different aspects of love, and the Cornish dancers are reveling in this opportunity. Broadway Performance Hall, 1625 Broadway Ave., 206-325-6500 or $4-8. 8 p.m. Fri. Nov. 18-Sat. Nov. 19, 2 p.m. Sat. Nov. 19. SANDRA KURTZ

Jarrad Powell & Jessika Kenney

It's difficult to describe Kenney's voice and manner without resorting to hopelessly condescending words like "elfin." She combines an arresting sort of unstudied vulnerability and weightlessness with the viscerality and drama of Indonesian vocal traditions—she's a longtime collaborator with Gamelan Pacifica and its director Jarrad Powell (pictured). This concert of his music, composed especially for Kenney, also includes a bunch of accomplished nu-muzik instrumentalists like Eyvind Kang, Tom Swafford, and others. PONCHO Concert Hall, Cornish College of the Arts, 206-325-6500 or $7.50-$15. 8 p.m. Fri. Nov. 18-Sat. Nov. 19. GAVIN BORCHERT

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