By Mari S. Gold
Well before David Hanbury makes his entrance as Mrs. Smith, the audience is pawsatively hysterical from the opening credits on the overhead movie screen including one announcing “Jewelry by Housing Works.”
Mrs. Smith sings and dances with her Broadway Boys, Brandon Haagenson and Ken Lear who also play musical instruments, handle puppets and wave flags. The premise of the show, Mrs. Smith’s Broadway Cat-Tacular, at 47th Street Theater through September 20th, is that Smith’s feline pal, a black-and-white tabby named Carlyle, went missing about two years ago. The result is a cat-induced breakdown that includes parodies of other songs (The Cat That Got Away); Skyped calls to a pet psychic and a re-enactment of Mrs. Smith’s life that includes her start in vaudeville, a world tour (well, sort of as she and Carlyle set their litter pan down in Paris, Bangkok and Poland) and fourteen husbands.
Throughout, the audience was eating (Fancy Feast) out of Mrs. Smith’s hands and would have pelted the stage with cat treats had Carlyle turned up. I wish I could be as enthusiastic about this performance as Mrs. Smith’s legions of fans. They loved every moment; me, not so much although I was very impressed with a (non-theatrical) woman summoned from her seat to join the Broadway Boys onstage who carried off her bit with great aplomb.
The show has played to delighted fans from Minneapolis to Boston and I had the feeling that for many it was a repeat visit.
David Hanbury is a New York-based writer and performer who has embodied Mrs. Smith in several other vehicles including Mrs. Smith Live! and Mrs. Smith Presents…A classically trained actor, he has done stints at the prestigious Guthrie Theater and the Actors Theater of Louisville and is also a virtuoso on the electric guitar. As Mrs. Smith, his wigs are cool, his costumes glittery and he’s full of cat-titude, much to the delight of his cheering audience who make it clear that to them he’s the cat’s pajamas.
Andrew Rasmussen, co-writer and director, has worked with numerous companies including Actors Theater of Minnesota and Laurie Bechman Theater in NYC. As an actor he has appeared on TV’s 30 Rock and Law & Order and currently working on the upcoming Broadway production of The Honeymooners.
For an evening like nothing else, Mrs. Smith and company are indeed the cat’s whiskers.
To learn more about Mrs. Smith’s Broadway Cat-Tacular, please visit http://www.findcarlyle.com/