'Cats' Musical Wiki
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Michelle Schumacher started her career on Broadway as Sillabub in Cats, Silly Girl in Beauty & the Beast, and Tiger Lily in Peter Pan where she met her husband, J.K. Simmons. She has worked as an actor, writer, director, producer and editor. Michelle started Rubber Tree Productions LLC in 2004.

Cats Credits[]

Broadway - 01/1990 - 10/1990 - Sillabub (cover Rumpleteazer)

Broadway - 04/1992 - Swing

Broadway - 10/1992 - Swing

Biography (1992)[]

Michelle Schumacher is happy to be returning in Cats after playing Sillabub for nine months in 1990. She was most recently seen on B'way as Tiger Lily in Peter Pan with Cathy Rigby at the Minskoff. She played Val in A Chorus Line, Dainty June in Gypsy, Jackie in Runaways and the Mistress in Evita as well as several TV commercials and pilots.

Interview (1990)[]

Interview with Los Angles Times: [1]

SAN DIEGO — To Michelle Schumacher, success is a four-letter word spelled C-A-T-S. "Somebody is watching over me,” the jubilant San Diego native said by phone from New York after signing a contract to do "Cats" on Broadway.

"Now I have a job I love, and I can do it as long as I want," said Schumacher, who, ironically, is allergic to real cats. "The show has been on Broadway for seven years, and they don't foresee it closing."

The 23-year-old made her Broadway debut last Tuesday as the cat Sillabub. For this 5-foot-tall dynamo, dancing in Andrew Lloyd Webber's mega-hit is an impossible dream come true.

"I was in Sacramento doing a show at the Music Circus last summer, and the 'Cats' people were there to audition. I knew I gave a really good audition, because they sang me in two or three different songs," Schumacher recalled. "But the interview was just to fill the files. There were no openings at the time. They said they’d be calling me, but they always say that.

"It's a really weird story. I planned to go to New York for a vacation (shortly before Christmas). The day before I left, I got a call from Vinny Liff, the casting director for 'Cats.' When I told him I was on my way, he asked, 'Can you come here for good?' Of course I said yes."

No one from the company had even seen Schumacher's work before she was thrust into their midst to rehearse. Not having to endure an audition with the cast was a big break, she acknowledges, but it also meant a different type of audition.

"I kind of had to prove myself to the company, to the dance captain and to the local director. I’ve been working my butt off since I got here," Schumacher said.

And prove herself she did. Her debut was praised by cast and crew alike.

As Sillabub, one of the cats always on stage, she gets a crack at Webber’s biggest hit song.

"Sillabub sings the reprise of 'Memory,' " she said, "so I'll have some nice singing moments."

Schumacher started in show business as a dancer, so it is easy for her to take the fleet-footed choreography of “Cats” in stride. But maintaining the cat-like crawl during those feline forays across the junkyard is something else again.

"That crouching stance is very hard on the lower back," she said. "It's a strenuous show--not the kind where you do your thing and exit. You're on stage for 2 1/2 hours. And you have to really emphasize your hands in the movements."

Unlike the modified decor that travels with touring versions of "Cats," the Broadway staging has a sharply pitched performing area that makes even two-legged balancing a feat, let alone the high-kicking moves the performers must negotiate in the virtuoso dance routines.

A ramp-like set that sweeps over the audience is another obstacle.

"The raked stage is very different," Schumacher said. "It takes some getting used to. It's difficult to crawl out on that railing, which is only a foot wide. I'm not afraid of heights. If I were, I probably couldn't do it. It's pretty dark up there, too."

Schumacher's musical comedy training goes back to the High School of Performing Arts in Chula Vista, and she credits mentor Jack Tygett, now of United States International University's Musical Theater Program, for preparing her to succeed on the Great White Way.

"For a while, all I was was a dancer," she recalled. "Jack Tygett told me, 'If you want longevity, you need more than dancing. You have to learn singing and acting as well.' Now I consider myself a performer. I can do everything."

Tygett agrees.

"Her dancing is like a Dresden doll," he said. "She has a delightful face, charm and a beautiful body. But I don't just consider her a dancer. She was diligent in acquiring acting and singing skills, and now she's a real triple threat."

Schumacher's first big break was in Starlight's staging of "A Chorus Line," where she stopped the show with her brazen rendition of the "Dance 10, Looks 3" number.

"That was a great role," she said. "I was only 18 when I got it, and it was my first singing role. Those are the kind of parts you kill for."

After a couple of strenuous weeks of rehearsal, Schumacher is adapting readily to being a Webber cat, but becoming a New York cat hasn't been as easy.

"The biggest challenge I've had was getting used to New York's cold weather," she said. "I got a cold when I got here. But I know everything is going to be great."

References[]

  1. "San Diego Dynamo Lands on Her Feet in Webber's 'Cats'"[1], Los Angeles Times, January 9, 1990.
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