A BPN encore of ‘With Love, Now and Forever!’ to support COVID-19 relief

In his parody podcast The Wrong Cat Died, theater outsider Mike Abrams, who adamantly believes that Grizabella was the wrong cat to die at the Jellicle Ball, interviews cast members, superfans, and haters of Cats the Musical and explores the backstories of all the feline characters to make a case for why they were more worthy to ascend to the Heaviside Layer.

On Saturday, August 21, at 7 pm, Abrams will host Broadway Reborn: With Love, Now and Forever!, a virtual benefit in association with the Broadway Podcast Network and award-winning director (and the original Skimbleshanks from the Cats National 3 tour) Jonathan S. Cerullo of JSCTheatricals (Legs Diamond; Sweet Charity) to celebrate the rebirth of Broadway after the long pandemic closure. The one-night-only digital event will reunite members of the original Broadway, national, and international companies of Cats throughout the years – Deborah Geneviere Athens, Joanna Beck, Anthony Vincent Bova, Jonathan S. Cerullo, Adrea Gibbs, Austin Jetton, Christine Toy Johnson, Kari Nicolaisen, Amiee Turner, and James Walski – for a lively discussion of their unique perspectives on the landmark musical.

In addition to the conversation, the podcast’s new special episode will also replay portions of the 2020 reunion fundraiser With Love, Now and Forever! by the 1986 Cats National 3 touring company, featuring a rebroadcast of their celebration of the opening number “Jellicle Songs for Jellicle Cats.” Rounding out the evening will be a thought-provoking examination of the role of Grizabella (whose now classic song “Memory” is recognized as one of Billboard’s Top-10 most recorded songs from musical theater) with Heidi Stallings, Lyn MacDonald-Sigman, and Grammy Award-winner Leslie Ellis, who all played the famed “Glamour Cat.”

As the first national tour of the blockbuster Broadway musical to be presented in major US cities like Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, St. Louis, Louisville, Miami, Phoenix, and many more, Cats National 3 broke box office records, received rave reviews, and was the first Cats company to play outdoor theaters due to the high demand for tickets. And when Tony Award-winning director/choreographer Michael Bennett was lost to HIV/AIDS in 1987, this tribe of ‘Jellicle Cats’ heard the call to action and created a one-night-only event that celebrated the career of Bennett, entitled One Singular Sensation: A Tribute to Michael Bennett, which raised nearly $40,000 to battle the virus.

Nearly 35 years after their first performance with the tour, concerned cast members of Cats National 3 (comprised of Mark Agnes, Jay Alger, Deborah Geneviere Athens, Joanna Beck, Anthony Vincent Bova, Lisa Dawn Cave, Jonathan Cerullo, Leslie Ellis, Robert Barry Fleming, Jack Gaughan, David Geist, Adrea Gibbs, JoAnn Hunter, Austin Jetton, Christine Toy Johnson, Aja Kane, BK Kennelly, Deidre Lang, Brian Liddicoat, Charmaine Liddicoat, Karen Longwell, Kari Nicolaisen, Bill Nolte, Donna Pompei, Cathy Sue Pyles, Rachelle Rak, Arminae Reames, Edward G. Robinson, Randy Slovacek, Julie Stiel, Beth Swearingen, Fred Tallaksen, Amiee Turner, James Walski, and Matt Zarley) stepped up once again on October 23, 2020, to help during the current worldwide pandemic, in support of the Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and its emergency COVID-19 relief fund.

Now, as then, these angelical cats will raise their voices on Saturday to continue to aid the theater community and its fight against the coronavirus, with audience donations going to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, the major supporter of the social service programs at The Actors Fund, including its COVID-19 Emergency Assistance Fund.

Broadway Reborn: With Love, Now and Forever! streams live on Saturday, August 21, at 7 pm, on The Wrong Cat Died at the Broadway Podcast Network. The podcast is also available on YouTube and across all podcast sites, including Apple/iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, iHeart, TuneIn, Deezer, Player.FM, Pocket Cast, and Podcast Addict. Viewing is free, but donations to Cats4COVIDRelief are encouraged.


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