This week, the National Broadway Tour of CATS comes to the RiverCenter for the Performing Arts. The record-breaking musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber has been performed in over 30 countries and 15 languages across the world since its Broadway debut in 1982.
So what's it like to play a cat six days a week while traveling across the country?
We were fortunate enough to get an exclusive interview with Adam Richardson, the man who plays Old Deuteronomy in the National Tour coming to Columbus this week. Continue reading to learn all about his journey from a small Southern town to landing his dream role on his first National Tour. You won't believe what he wanted you to know before you see the show!
Adam Richardson plays Old Deuteronomy in the National Broadway Tour of CATS coming to RiverCenter for the Performing Arts this week. | Image by Jared Slater. Source
Q: Your bio indicates that you're originally from Smithville, Virginia. Are you looking forward to being back in the South?
A: Yes. We were actually just in the area of my hometown for a three day block of shows a couple of weeks ago, and I ended up getting to stay with my family. It was so great to see everyone and be back home for awhile.
Q: I also read that you are classically trained. Can you speak about your experience managing the vocal demands of your role on tour as Old Deuteronomy? How has your classical training enabled you to have the stamina to sing such a large role for eight performances a week while traveling so much?
A: My classical training has definitely prepared me for a Broadway schedule. By learning and practicing good technique through undergrad and grad school, I developed the healthy habits needed to be able to protect my voice. The skills learned through that type of intense classical training equip you with the information you need to know how to take care of your voice and your body as a whole. Classical vocal training is the equivalent to ballet for dancers. Even if you wish to perform other styles and genres, having the technique is essential for success.
A lot of people think that singing is just a matter of opening your mouth, but it really takes a lot of work and stamina. Singing is very physical. You have to know what to do to protect and take care of yourself. The biggest things for me are getting enough rest and drinking enough fluids to get me through the week of performances well.
Dan Hoy as 'Munkustrap' and the North American Tour of CATS. Photo by Matthew Murphy. Courtesy of RiverCenter for the Performing Arts.
Q: How has this tour of CATS been for you? What's your experience been like?
A: I think one of the most important things to remember about this show is that we are people. But unlike most other shows where the characters are people on stage, we are people playing animals. When we prepare to take the stage, we have to mentally strip away our human natures and enter into the show as cats. It's a unique challenge, and to me, is what makes this show so interesting.
Keri Reneě Fuller as Grizabella in the North American Tour of CATS.
Photo by Matthew Murphy. Courtesy of RiverCenter for the Performing Arts.
I have absolutely loved touring with this production. I spent a lot of last year on the West Coast, which was a completely new experience for me. I am an East Coast Southerner, so being able to travel and experience the West Coast was wonderful. I loved being in new cities and trying new types of food everywhere we went.
Due to my classical training background, I have spent quite a lot of time in Europe. It's easy to forget that our country is actually quite vast. There are a lot of things that I still have yet to explore in my own country. It's exciting and an important lesson this tour has taught me.
People have been so kind and generous to us along the way. When you're on the road, it's nice to meet so many new people. I love meeting people after the show. They're always so complimentary and generous with their time. Touring has just been a really wonderful experience for me.
Q: What would you like for our audience to know before they see the show?
A: I think that often when we encounter the arts, especially in the South, people assume that everyone on stage is from a big city. In many places, the arts are still considered a luxury. This leads to the expectation that every actor we see must be from somewhere else. For some reason, we Southerners seem to assume every actor is from somewhere "big."
I am the biggest Southern boy you can find on this planet. I grew up in a really small town, and I was so fortunate to be in an area where I had access to the arts. Not everyone you see on that stage is from somewhere like Chicago, New York, or Los Angeles. No matter where you're from, anyone from anywhere can have a successful career in the arts.
Sure, there are plenty of actors from big cities. But there are so many of us working professionally who are from small towns with very humble beginnings. We're all just here working hard together to bring joy to our audiences through storytelling and artistry.
It's wonderful to bring people a theatrical experience like this all over the country. I like to think there's someone out there watching who may not have the ability to get to New York or Los Angeles, and that maybe our performance will inspire them right where they are. ◼︎
If You Go:
When: February 11 and 12, 7:30 p.m.
Where: RiverCenter for the Performing Arts