"Felines at the Opera House are the cats’ meow" Napa Valley Register
By EV PARKER, Register Correspondent
Wednesday, May 23, 2007

On Saturday at the Napa Valley Opera House the Moscow Cats Theatre was in town and the show featured 35 housecats, five clowns, a ballerina and one dog to complete the cast.
The work directed by Yuri Pototski and Michael Zlatnikov recently played to sold out theaters in New York and Los Angeles, and here they were in old Napa town.

I think that the audience — myself included — wondered how one trained a cat to perform acrobatic tricks and play a role in each non-stop bit of action — all that and zipping on and off stage left and right on cue. But those cats never missed a beat.

Felines opened the show to recorded upbeat music and with the help of the clowns, ballerina and faithful dog, the cats amazed us with their feats of agility.
The cats so absorbed us with their actions that their clown handlers were reduced to second bananas; those felines drove toy automobiles, walked horizontal bars, rightside up and upside down, and to top it off managed to seemingly fly up a long pole pointed toward the theater’s roof and work there way down as easy as a “piece of cake.”

One highlight of this fast-paced show was the sphynx cat tapping a light bulb on as a clown slept dreaming about the ballerina all in white.

Every time the clown began sleeping the cat would paw and the light bulb would go on. So the clown, roused from sleep finally unscrewed the bulb — and the kids in the audience loved it when the cat pawed the bulb now on the floor and the darn thing lit up again

The hour seemed to fly by as up-tempo music filled the theater, and cats were everywhere, never missing a cue. Before the show ended, three gentlemen and eight youngsters from the audience became a part of the show, whirling dishes assisted by clowns, and the audience loved it.

After the show, “my time” began as I talked to some of the children who had just seen what I saw.

Adrian Miller, 11, from Felton in the Santa Cruz mountains had traveled a long distance to see the show with his mom, Terrilynn Bench, and his Napa grandma, Joyce Bench. Adrian loved the lightbulb trick as well as a cat near the end of the performance who joined some of the clowns singing “Happy Birthday” to Fluffy McQueen, one fluffy feline. I should add here that it really is a small world. Adrian’s grandma Joyce Bench reminded me of a scene five or six years ago when Adrian and my grandson Robbie played with toy trains together at the Loose Caboose in Napa.

Natalie Pegano, a l0-year-old, was fascinated by the cats doing those climbing, balancing and jumping arobatics and her mom, Annie Cassidy from Sonoma, agreed.

Then along came Grace Turner, 7, of Sonoma and her brother Jack, all of 4. They loved the cats driving cars and scooting up the long pole to the sky. Finally, Harry Baker-Fost, 7, with his mom Betty Baker from Mill Valley, marveled at the balancing acts and the cats scooting on and off stage at just the right time.

By then the cafe had emptied out, but I did catch up to a Russian clown who spoke English. I asked him how his troupe trained those cats, and he laughed, “With perseverance, patience, affection and rewards as in fish tidbits.” The clown asked me how I liked the show and I said “It was the cat’s meow,” which in American English used to mean great.