“Cats,” cat lovers, the cat’s “meow,” and American Idol memories

Photo by Angela Weiss/Getty Images

Opening night of “Cats” at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood.

It was the “cat’s meow!” Celebrities turned out in force for the musical “Cats” at the Pantages Theatre, running through Sunday, March 21. It is a wonderful, high-energy production great for the entire family. Of course, Jo Anne Worley was very comfortable on the red carpet with the cast of “Cats” on opening night. After all, she is the president of Actors and Others for Animals, and adores kitty cats of all shapes and sizes. She was among the many famous cat lovers happy to chat about their favorite moments from the much-loved musical with “Jellicle Songs for Jellicle Cats.”
Mel B, the Spice Girl who strutted her stuff on “Dancing With the Stars,” brought her young daughter and said, “I have seen the show so many times and have loved every moment of it. And now I get to share an unforgettable memory with my daughter.”
Loretta Devine, from “Grey’s Anatomy,” gave a sigh when she told me, “I love the ‘Memory’ song, it is such a beautiful moment.” Carolyn Hennesy, of “Cougar Town” and “General Hospital,” agreed and recalled, “The best moment was the first time I saw ‘Cats’ when it opened in London almost 30 years ago. Nothing will ever take the place of Grizabella coming out the first time and singing that remarkable song. I remember everyone in the audience was in awe.”
Masiela Lusha, the pretty daughter from The George Lopez Show, gushed, “Although I get excited when Rum Tum Tugger comes out and shakes his hips like Elvis, it’s the song ‘Memory’ that gives you goosebumps.” Doris Roberts, Debi Mazar, Melora Hardin and Jai Rodriguez, among others were in total agreement.
Yes, it was almost unanimous that everyone’s favorite moment is “Memory,” except Tippi Hedren, who surprised me. The founder the Shambala Preserve that takes care of lions, tigers and other big cats, Tippi reported she is a member of the Magic Castle and a fan of the magical arts, “So I naturally love the ‘Magical Mr. Mistoffelees’ number, that is so darling.” She praised all the cat-like performers in the musical, “Everyone was outstanding and athletic.”
Tippi’s love of cats, big and small, has earned her the Humane Society’s Lifetime Achievement honor, to be presented at the upcoming 24th Genesis Awards. Actress Melanie Griffith will present the prestigious award to her mother at the gala on Saturday, March 20 at the Beverly Hilton. The honor is well-deserved for Hedren, the quintessential Hitchcock heroine and star of the legendary director’s classic films “The Birds” and “Marnie.” The stunning lady (who just turned 80!) has worked tirelessly as a hands-on caregiver to the big cats at Shambala and has dedicated more than 40 years to the protection of animals. She is really the “cat’s meow.”

American Idol’s memorable moments

Photo by Margie Barron

Fox TV’s “American Idol” celebration for the Top 12.

The “American Idol” Top 12 were introduced at a celebratory Fox TV event last week, and it was a joy to chat with the finalists. Their enthusiasm about being part of television’s top-rated star-making show was infectious, and left me undecided about who to root for, because they all seemed deserving.
No matter who becomes the next American Idol, all have collected moments that they will remember the rest of their lives. Aaron Kelly, 16, said, “It’s a dream come true. I’m still in shock. My most memorable moment so far is when all four judges said ‘Yes’ to me in Orlando. That started me on this journey.” Tim Urban talked about getting a hug from Ellen Degeneres after he sang “Hallelujah.” “That was a shock. I couldn’t understand why she got up and started walking towards me.”
   Didi Benami was speechless, but Michael Lynche (known as Big Mike) said he’s singing at full strength “because my wife and baby are here.” The blond boy with the golden voice, Casey James called being at the Fox party, “Crazy. I keep thinking I should be home in my living room watching all this with my puppy dogs.” Paige Miles said, “I was 16 when I watched the first season of American Idol. I’m 24 now, and here I am, and I just saw Justin Guarini. This is so bizarre.”
Justin Guarini, first season runner-up to winner Kelly Clarkson, was there to support and encourage the finalist. He revealed his memorable moment was, “The first time I played to an audience of 30,000 people on the first Idol concert tour. To hear the roar of the crowd and they’re screaming your name as you come up on to the stage. That was awesome.”

That’s what “American Idol” is all about, living your dream. Tune in.

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