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A CurtainUp Review
Mrs. Smith's Broadway Cat-Tacular

Oh I don't know there's just something about Him. Something in his whiskers, something in his eyes.
— Mrs. Smith

David Hanbury
It shouldn't matter that a cat, a key character in Mrs. Smith's Broadway Cat-Tacular , is named Carlyle, and that the cat that lived with this critic's family for twenty-five years was named Kitty Carlyle (yes the real Ms Carlyle's namesake for Pete's sake). So there is in this review an unexpected bit of tenderness built-in for Mrs. Smith, as portrayed by the very talented David Hanbury. This, as the erstwhile showgirl relates a most improbable story of her revived stage career in partnership with a most intelligent and extraordinary cat. That partnership, a multi-discipline vaudeville act, however, ended abruptly when Carlyle went missing two and a half years ago.

Bereft by the loss, Mrs. Smith, who admits she "swore off the stage years ago" has now returned to the road in search of Carlyle with a very unique cabaret act prompted only by her expressed desire to find her whiskered partner.

Hanbury makes no attempt to be gorgeous in the style of many drag performers. A nice touch. Mrs. Smith is, in fact, rather matronly. Her often ungainly movements are apparently well-calculated to betray her as poignantly self-deluding, as is her unflattering wig that suggests a dated if not quite Victorian mind-set. Hanbury, however, wears some stunning gowns (no credit given.)

Mrs. Smith funnily extols the virtues and capabilities of Carlyle whom we get to see in flash-back as a very enthusiastic hand puppet in various stages of learning the biz. Her impassioned narrative veers toward the inane, but so be it. Our motor-mouthed diva's brittle asides and batty digressions also provide amusing occasions for some audience-friendly participation. A filmed segment of her youth in Boston and upstate New York elicit guffaws. Funniest bit is her memory of getting stoned at Pat Nixon's birthday party. But it is Hanbury's patently deft and also partly daffy renditions of classic show tunes that are the real cat's meow.

She wows us with her intense interpretations of some of the greatest hits from the musical theater song book. They include such classics as "Cabaret," "Knowing Me, Knowing You," "One Night in Bangkok," "Cabaret," and "Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart!" Often embracing the style of some of the most adored divas of song, she puts her distinct signature on "Ladies Who Lunch" and "Don't Rain On My Parade," and "The Cat That Got Away." (you know who.)

The determined, desperate, and certainly impassioned Mrs. Smith, however, has only one thing on her mind. . . to find Carlyle and have the audience help her. We do. Director Andrew Rasmussen has provided the kind of staging that makes this very small show look big and bright. Even more glow comes from the two terrific all-singing, all-dancing "Broadway Boys" — Brandon Haagenson and Ken Lear — who she says she "stole from Bernadette Peters." They robustly accompany Mrs. Smith as she searches the world playing all the local but always glittering hot-spots. The Broadway Boys are no second fiddles to their top banana as they not only impress as backup dancers but as musicians, especially and unexpectedly during this funny eighty-minute show's brief intermission.

Mrs. Smith's Broadway Cat-Tacular
Created by David Hanbury
Directed by Andrew Rasmussen
Cast: David Hanbury (Mrs. Smith), Brandon Haagenson and Ken Lear (The Broadway Boys)
Lighting Designer: Alexander Favozzi
Assistant Lighting Designer: Oona Curley
Lighting Production: The Lighting Syndicate
Production Stage Manager: Toni Ostini
Production Press Representative: Richard Hillman Public Relations
Running Time: 1 hour 20 minutes including intermission
47th Street Theatre, 304 west 47th Street
Ticket Central (212) 279 - 4200
Tickets: $79.00 & $99.50
Performances: Friday and Saturday at 8 pm, Sunday & Monday at 7:30 pm.
From 07/10/15 Opened 07/20/15 Ends 09/20/15--closed early 8/01/15
Review by Simon Saltzman based on performance 07/18/15
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