June 8 2011 12:00 AM

’Cats’ tour keeps actress Ashley Travis on the go


    In real life, cats are not generally known for being
    particularly active. But if you’re in “Cats,” you always have to be fast
    on your feet.

    Ask Ashley Travis, a 2010 Western Michigan University
    graduate who is one of the “swing” performers on the current national
    tour. Typically, Travis hits the stage when one of the regular cast
    members has to take time off. Sometimes, that can mean going to work
    midway through a performance.

    "If someone goes out, we have eight minutes to get into
    makeup and hair and go on," the 23-year-old Tecumseh native said in a
    phone interview. But Travis admits that can be quite exciting.

    "There’s no other feeling like it that I’ve ever
    experienced,” she said. “They’re gonna toss you on the stage with some
    sort of makeup on, and you’re probably not gonna look perfect. But
    hopefully the audience doesn’t know there’s been a switch. My job is to
    make sure there are as few holes in the show as possible."

    Travis’ chances of getting into the act are generally good
    since she covers six feline characters: Demeter, Bombalurina,
    Rumpelteazer, Cassandra, Sillabub and Jennyanydots.

    Sometimes Travis knows in advance what she’ll be doing.
    For instance, she’s already scheduled to play Sillabub at the Saturday
    matinee at the Wharton Center.

    Most of the time, though, she has to roll with whatever
    the gods of theater hand her. She’s even had the experience of stepping
    in for two different Cats in the course of one performance.

    "One show, I was on stage as Syllabub, and I had to cover
    because our Rumpelteazer went out," Travis said. "(Rumpelteazer) had a
    solo, and I did it.

    "I love doing that: It’s kind of like being a superhero in
    the show, and the audience doesn’t even know most of the time. But
    that’s fine with me — I get to sneak out the back door."

    Wharton Center
    8 p.m. Friday, June 10; 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday, June 11
    (800) WHARTON

    Subscribe to Our Newsletter