Sunday, September 10, 2000

'Cats' pause

Anderson Township native looks forward to rest as Broadway run ends

By Jackie Demaline
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Anderson Township's Sharon Wheatley will be among the Broadway Cats dancing at their last Jellicle Ball tonight.

[photo] Sharon Wheatley (above) and as Jennyanydots.
        When the curtain comes down after 18 years and 7,485 performances on the longest-running musical in Broadway history, Ms. Wheatley says she'll be happy to take a breather and spend a little more time with her toddler, Charlotte.

        She was on Broadway in Phantom of the Opera when she was invited to audition for Cats. “I turned it down,” she says with a laugh. “They wanted me to do two dance combinations and I told them, "I'm not your girl. I'm the one who stands and sings.' ”

        The casting director told her not to worry, they were looking for personality, not dance, and Ms. Wheatley couldn't resist auditioning on the legendary stage of Broadway's Winter Garden Theater.

        “I used a song Aubrey (Berg) gave me years ago from Gilda Radner's Broadway show, called "I Want to Be Unhappy.' ”

        She went on stage, had a good time, and will dance into the history books as the last Jennyanydots.

        Now Ms. Wheatley, an Ursuline Academy graduate and 1990 grad of the University of Cincinnati's College-Conservatory of Music's musical theater program, is proud owner of a record of her own. She's the only woman to have appeared on Broadway in Les Miserables, Phantom of the Opera and Cats.

        Parents Chuck and Mary Jo Wheatley will be in the audience tonight. Husband Robert Meffe, who earned his master's in choral conducting at UC, will be at his own job, conducting the Broadway production of Les Miz.


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