Some three dozen people are in the cast of the revival of Cats, currently in previews at the Neil Simon Theatre on Broadway. Most of the performers are young, and their stories are as old as Broadway and as new as the latest trend on Twitter. In this five part series, we’ll meet some of the savvy, accomplished, and all-around remarkable performers behind the makeup.
Cats Character: Rumpleteazer. Rumpleteazer and her pal Mungojerrie “are not quite kittens. They are more like early teenagers, Harlem street kids who are mischievous, adventurers discovering what the world is like.”
Parallels? “She’s very fiery and she is really excited about living and she really enjoys city life. She enjoys discovering what the world is. And all that is definitely a lot like me.”
Hometown: Atlanta, GA
Show That Made Her Want to Be a Performer: “I saw Alvin Ailey every year and was planning to become a concert dancer, but I became interested in musical theater when I made my Broadway debut in Bring It On.”
Degree: BFA in dance, Point Park University
First Professional Performance: Dancer in a music video for Ebru, and with “Monument to Life,” a performance that opened the Martin Luther King Jr. monument on the National Mall
Previous Broadway Shows: Hamilton, Cinderella, Bring It On, the national company of Matilda
Favorite Inspirational Quote: “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or
Role She Most Wants to Play: “I just enjoy doing new things. In addition to theater, I’d like to do TV and film, commercials, and go on tour with Beyoncé.”
As a member of the ensemble for the musical Hamilton, Shonica Gooden played a part that insiders refer to as “the Bullet” — used throughout the show but especially “at the end, when she is the literal bullet that kills Alexander Hamilton,” she says. Gooden loved the role: “It was magical, but it was also bittersweet.” That is because she had to leave after only four months, having served as a replacement for an original cast member who had been on medical leave. Still, choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler didn’t forget her. Having cast her first on Broadway in Bring It On, and then as a replacement in Hamilton, he now has chosen her for what she calls an exciting and challenging role that requires singing and acting, as well as dancing.
“I am a very spiritual person, and so I kind of leave it up to the power, but do my part by making sure that I maintain my skills, my technique, and my connections, and that I have a good attitude.”