By Diana Black

Was it the cat's meow? Yes. But not purr-fect.

The minute I heard tickets for "Cats" had gone on sale, I made a beeline (actually, I guess it was a feline) for the phone. I had missed the two previous Louisville performances and had to be satisfied with taped music from "Cats" until another production arrived.

Thank goodness for that tape! The December 29, 1989 performance of "Cats" in The Kentucky Center's Whitney Hall suffered from poor sound quality. It was very difficult to hear key passages, and had I not been familiar with the characters and the story line, I would have been terribly confused.

At times, however, the poor sound quality seemed a blessing. The performance of Holly Cruz, cast in the role of Sillabud, was disappointing as she hit more than her share of flat notes. The orchestra sounded less than enthusiastic as the drums labored to keep the beat and the French horn sounded as weak as a kitten.

Fortunately, "Cats" had nine lives. The strength of Andrew Lloyd Webber's music overcame even those obstacles with the help of an generally outstanding cast.

Fine performances brought to life the roles of Grizabella (The Glamour Cat), Old Deuteronomy (a sage among cats), Rum Tum Tugger (a hum hum dinger), and the Magical Mr. Mistoffeles. The actors were Rosemary Loar, Francis Ruivivar, Bradford Minkoff and Joey Pizzi, respectively.

The dancing was incredible. The entire cast gave crisp, energetic performances during each of the physically demanding dance numbers. Vocals showed no lack of control despite lengthy, demanding numbers, other than for Holly Cruz. Especially fine was Rosemary Loar's astounding performance of "Memory."

It was the cat's meow.