Cats Can Act: “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” on Broadway Review

Cats have starred in movies, but cats have never quite been bitten by the stage bug. Most cats don’t even perform parlor tricks for the family on holidays, so a successful Broadway role seems like a stretch. When it comes to stage work, a cat must perform perfectly night after night, in bright lights, in front of a live audience and all in one take.

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At the moment, there is indeed a feline “mews” of Broadway: cat star Vito Vincent. The orange tabby gracefully shares the stage with Emilia Clarke as Holly Golightly in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” the new stage adaption of the classic Truman Capote novella and the 1961 movie of the same name starring Audrey Hepburn.

Making Way to the Stage
After a large talent search, Broadway cat trainer Babette Corelli passed on the 300 cats who auditioned (97% by cat video), and opted to use her own cat, Vito Vincent. She knew the role of Capote’s nameless cat required a professional cat actor and not a mere house pet or flash-in-the-litter-pan YouTube sensation.

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The feline actor in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” must feel comfortable being handled (he’s passed from actor to actor), sit on a stack of suitcases for an extended period of time (and look disinterested during a party scene) and run off stage on cue a couple of times. Not an easy role or work load for your average independent-minded, easily bored kitty, especially in front of a full house at the Cort Theatre in New York City. Fortunately for Vito, the show’s story revolving around a wide-eyed, good-time call girl isn’t exactly family entertainment, so the number of cooing youngsters at the Saturday matinees should be few (and clearly those children are too sophisticated to coo for a kitty).

The Reviews Are In
When the New York Times chief theatre critic Ben Brantley tendered his not-so-tender review of the new production of “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” he was more smitten by the cat Vito Vincent than the show’s star Emilia Clarke. He complained that in Clarke’s portrayal of Holly Golightly, “There’s no hint of the feral hillbilly, the uncageable wild thing, that Holly once was.”

The famous party scene, starring the big orange tabby, apparently went well enough (or as well as could be expected). “When I saw the show, [the cat] leapt out of Holly’s arms and into the wings before the festivities really got started. That cat exuded an enviable air of devil-may-care independence as it zipped off the stage. Maybe it should have played Holly. In any case I knew I want to go wherever that cat was going.”

Clearly Brantley has never trained a cat for Broadway, although he seems to be pro-kitty.  Nonetheless, no self-respecting cat is going to play a call girl six nights a week and twice on Saturday. Perhaps Vito will take on the role on Tuesdays and Fridays, when the mood strikes him.

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