CATS Stages “Take Me Along” for 11 Big Bear Shows

Take Me Along by CATS in Big BearAward-winning Community Arts Theater Society (CATS) digs into the vault in presenting another Broadway hit musical with its summer production of Take Me Along.

With an 11 show run at the Performing Arts Center June 24 through July 10, Take Me Along  is set over two days around the Fourth of July 1906. A high spirited family musical, it’s filled with great music and funny scenes as teenagers and senior citizens alike fall in love, come of age and try to stay out of trouble. It’s a show along the lines of The Music Man, a bit ironic since the latter, along with more well-known hits Gypsy and The Sound of Music, helped keep Take Me Along from reaching blockbuster status itself.

A shame, because Take Me Along is an engaging, entertaining production which CATS first presented in 2000 starring the late John Grandi. It’s based on Eugene O’Neil’s one and only comedy “Ah, Wilderness!” and while it’s not like the show didn’t get accolades—it received a whopping 10 Tony Award nominations!—it gets somewhat overlooked. In turn it’s not presented as often as the others either, so theater aficionados familiar with the musical flock to performances.

CATS reprises the show with a talented cast featuring Steve Mangels, Adam McDonald, Diana Hintergardt, Nancy Walker, and Timmy and Jessica Brasher. All have starring roles in their backgrounds and do real justice to the terrific score. The Brashers have grown up together on the Big Bear stage, which Jessica returns to after her sophomore year at UC Davis. Interesting that they share a bar room scene together!

Take Me Along’s title song was so popular United Airlines adapted it for a massive 1960’s television campaign, encouraging businessmen to bring their wives along on their trips. Director Karen “Sarge” Rachels knows the musical well—Cast of Take Me Along in Big Bearshe once toured the production along with Dan Dailey.

“People who know musicals know this is a lovely show,” Rachels said. “It’s so family oriented and there’s so many wonderful songs and funny scenes. The show made a star out of Robert Morse and also Valerie Harper.”

As usual Joanne McMaster has created stunning period sets that take full advantage of the  PAC’s revolving stage and there’s brilliant costuming by Priscilla Anderson. CATS productions and performers have won numerous awards from Inland Theater League

Take Me Along opens June 24-26 with  7:30 p.m. shows Friday and Saturday, 1:30 p.m. Sunday matinee. Subsequent performances are at 7:30 p.m. on June 29 and July 1-2, 6 and 8-9 with 1:30 p.m. Sunday matinees July 3 and 10.

Tickets vary by performance and cost $17-$29 for adults, $16-$27 seniors, under 18 are $11-$20.

For tickets visit the Performing Arts Center or call (909) 866-4970.

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