El gato con botas

Dec 08, 2014

The Huffington Post

David Finkle

Since perfect things come along infrequently, it's absolutely required that when they do, a whole lot of carrying on attends them. The perfect thing about which I'm now holding forth is the Gotham Chamber Opera and Tectonic Theater Project's revival ofEl gato con botas (Puss in Boots), at El Museo del Barrio through the end of this week.

Search as you may, you'll find nothing wrong with the piece. The music composed by Xavier Montsalvatge is unfailingly tuneful throughout in a Verdi-influenced way. Neal Goren's conducting of a 12-strong orchestra is brisk and bright. The Nestor Lujan libretto, aimed at both children and adults (albeit on different levels), is constantly amusing. Moises Kaufman's directing is full of surprises. The nine-person puppeteer team -- puppet captain Stefano Brancato, Jonothon Lyons and Aaron Schroeder manipulating the unbooted and then booted Puss -- is magically present and invisible.

The singing in the appealingly small auditorium -- the walls of which are covered with Willy Pogany's murals depicting moments from fairy tales (Puss in Boots included) -- is uniformly vivacious.

Craig Verm as the macho miller and cat owner who comes to respect the scrawny creature he inherits, Andrea Carroll as the princess whose hand in marriage the miller wants, Kevin Burdette as the Ogre whom Puss cajoles into becoming a graspable bird and Stephanos Koroneos as the realm's benevolent king are consistently in good voice and good humor.

So are puppet director Mark Down, puppet designer Nick Barnes of Blind Summit Theatre, set designer Andromache Chalfant, costume designer Clint Ramos, sound designer David Lander and choreographer Sean Curran.

If I've left anyone out for praise, it's entirely unintentional, since every aspect of this El gato con botas -- which perhaps has been tweaked since its 2010 debut and made even better than it was then -- is sterling. 


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