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In The Pipeline: This 'Cat' is no kitten

January 18, 2012|By Chris Epting
  • Madison Mitchell
Madison Mitchell

The national touring company of the iconic musical "Cats" has returned to Orange County (it's at Segerstrom Center for the Arts until Sunday), and happily for one of the feline performers, she has been able to finally curl up in her own bed at night.

Madison Mitchell, who portrays Demeter in the show, recently began her second year in the show, which has taken her all over North America (and Hawaii) more than once. While she loves her current role, she has also enjoyed playing Jo in "Little Women," Anita in "West Side Story" and Luisa in "The Fantasticks."

Thrilled to be able to spend a few nights at home with her family in Anaheim, the former Orange County High School of the Arts and Huntington Beach High School's Academy for the Performing Arts student is also enjoying the chance to have old friends and family come see her perform.

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Speaking to her, one is struck by her poise, maturity and seasoned-pro savvy.

All the more impressive when you consider that she is just 19 years old.

As a sophomore in high school, she decided that she was ready to pursue her childhood dreams in the footlights. She pitched the idea to her folks, who in turn allowed her to take the California High School Proficiency Exam and then begin her career in earnest. Almost immediately, she landed the part in "Cats" and has been on the road almost nonstop since then, touring nine months in her first year (with a similar schedule coming up for 2012).

Though she was born more than 10 years after Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Cats" premiered in London's West End in 1981, she became intrigued with the show after seeing a commercial for it on an old VHS tape she and her older sister (also a dancer) used to watch. When she got the chance to audition, she thought about that old commercial and how magical the show seemed.

And now here she is, front and center in one of the most challenging dance productions in Broadway history.

"The show itself is exhausting," she told me. "Very physical and intense. But during the hard moments on stage, I always think of the alternatives and there's nothing else I'd rather be doing right now."

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