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A CurtainUp Review
Moscow Cats Theatre
The Moscow Cats Now Meow at the Lamb's Theater
By Elyse Sommer

 Moscow Cat Theatre
Moscow Cat Theatre
The Lamb's Theater in the heart of the theater district is small enough for Dmitri Kuklachev's Moscow Cats Theater to still come off as a uniquely entertaining mom and pop style circus for the whole family. So, yes, it's still the cat's meeow and the human ensemble contributes more than its share of talent and laughs.

I was a little concerned about whether training cats -- not an easy task, as any cat owner will confirm -- would cause more sympathy than admiration for the cats. But the 20 cats racing across the stage, climbing poles, riding go-carts and tricycles seem none the worse for having weathered the rigors of becoming show cats. My feeling that the animal rights activists don't have much cause for complaint was confirmed by the frequently heard " ooh"s and "ah"s and "how cute" from the many cat lovers in the audience.

Eric Beckson's initial description pretty much covers what to expect. The twenty cats are currently joined by two cute dogs (though I understand some shows use just one dog, as per the review below). I'd like to credit the designers of the day-glow colored marker costumes and props which, like the clown ensemble, deserve as much credit as the agile cats. However, this family enterprise is out to make as much money from its Moscow Cats merchandise as possible -- and that means not even the programs are free (no exceptions for visiting critics) to provide these details, which brings me to a concluding caveat:

This is indeed a fun show that kids as well as their parents will enjoy -- in fact, my husband and I got a special charge out of watching two adorable boys approximately six to eight years old who really rocked in their seats throughout the show. During the final audience participation shtick these youngsters took to the stage like pros. And this without any training from Kuklachev!

However, don't count on sneaking your kids past the enticements of the show paraphanelia sales table. It's positioned so nobody can miss it, and a member of the clown ensemble also works the aisles hawking the $10 programs. And so, given that you're likely going to be suckered into buying something and the $65 ticket cost, this makes for a pricey seventy minutes (more like an hour, plus encore). The show's school night evenings especially are likely to require considerable inventive promotional effort to keep the theater filled for a substantial open run. I wouldn't be surprised to see the orchestra salted with surprise celebrity guests to draft as audience participants. However, I'm not sure that this would work for this intimate clown and cat show -- unless such surprise guests came with their own favorite cats tugged into a shopping bag."> PRODUCTION NOTES
Done. . . Moscow Cats Theater
Creator: Yuri Kuklachev
Cast (besides animals): Dmitri Kuklachev, Yelena Kuklacheva, Petr Gerasimov, Inga Gerasimova, Lioudmila Smirnova, Alexander Gerasimov and Vasiliy Zhuravlev. Running Time: 70 minutes, with no intermission
Kuklachev and Company at the Lambs Theatre 130 West 44th Street (Between 6th Avenue and Broadway) 212-239-6200 From 2/03/06-- open ended run.
Tickets$65, $45. Performances
Wednesday to Friday @ 8pm, Saturday @ 2pm, 5pm & 8pm, Sunday @ 3pm
The cats are meeowing their way back to Moscow-- last performance, 5/28/06

Eric Beckson's review of The Moscow Cats Theater During It's Downtown Run

If you'd like to see a cat doing a handstand on the palm of a man's hand or a cat that jumps twenty feet and lands squarely on a platform the size of a tea tray, there's a show in town for you. It comes all the way from Russia.

Yuri Kuklachev's Moscow Cats Theatre is more of a clown show featuring cats than a cat show with clowns. Either way, it's delightful entertainment geared to children and anyone fanatical about felines.

Accompanied by three clowns, the ever present Kuklachev is an accomplished clown himself as well as chief cat coaxer. He resembles the jovial and somewhat flamboyant Frank Morgan's Professor Marvel and the Wizard in the Wizard of Oz. A silent clown, Kuklachev is an excellent mime as well as a humble and gleeful presence.

To provide a very loose framework we have: a rainstorm from which to protect the cats (using small cages on tall poles); a magical artist's studio where three mannequins come alive and entertain; a space alien invasion aimed at kidnapping the cats (which must of course be prevented). There is not too much glitz in any of the sets or the costumes, but it's enough.

Still spry after more than 35 years in the circus (mostly self-employed), Kuklachev joins the other clowns in a variety of physically demanding acts which include riding a giant pogo stick, shimmying hula hoops and dancing of all kinds. Kuklachev even sketches audience members. It's as if anything and everything is appropriate as long as its well done.

It's amusing to see the cats harassing Kuklachev by jumping on him, refusing to stay in a box or in a pot or at the top of a pole, routinely swatting at him and generally disrespecting him (in an obviously trained manner). In a running gag, one particularly independent cat swats at him whenever he approaches.

When the clowns take center stage the fare is familiar, but it will seem new, or at least droll, to young children or anyone new to the circus. At the performance I attended a constant chattering and screeching indicated a general sense of exhilaration among the younger members of the audience. The only moment of silence occurred when Kuklachev sleight of handed a live cat with a stuffed toy cat and then threw the toy look-a-like into the audience (reminding one of the bucket of confetti that replaces the bucket of water). When an audience member tossed the toy back onto the stage, Kuklachev looked sadly down at it and back at the individual as if to say, what a way to treat a cat!

The one dog (a nonchalant Scottie) smartly maintains a low profile by pushing a cat bearing baby carriage across the stage (and other yeoman-like tasks). Passively, it stands on its hind legs for a full minute as Kuklachev dresses it in a ridiculous costume -- which is no more garish than Kuklachev’s. As they say in the old country: anything to make a living.

Reviewed September 17th at The Tribeca Performing Arts Center where its initial 10/30/05 closing date was extended to 12/31/06
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