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Newman’s very own Farris Larsen will be taking center stage at Playhouse Merced as she plays the role of Grizabella in the upcoming production of the Broadway hit musical “Cats.” 

A veteran Newman performer will appear in an upcoming Playhouse Merced production of “Cats - The Musical.”

Newman’s very own Farris Larsen will appear in the musical production, which was composed on Andrew Lloyd Webber and is based on T.S Elliot’s whimsical 1939 collection of poems, Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats.

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s popular musical brings together a tribe of Jellicle Cats on a moonlit evening who must make the “Jellicle choice” to decide which of them will ascend to the mysterious Heaviside layer to be reborn. 

Larsen, who is the executive director at the West Side Theatre, is playing the part of Grizabella. 

Her theatrical interests were sparked at an early age, when Larsen saw “West Side Story” in Newman.

“I was 11 when I saw West Side Story,” said Larsen. “The music, and dancing looked like so much fun and I enjoyed every moment of it.”

Larsen’s earliest performances, though, came not on the stage (Newman did not have a theater program at the time) but in the basement of her church. She and other children in the church would go down to the basement, dress in costume and apply stage makeup and act out the different musicals they knew.

They allowed themselves to be as creative as they wanted to be, Larsen shared.

Larsen got her first taste of performing on a stage in front of a live audience while in college.

Numerous appearances in local and regional productions followed.....the most recent being the upcoming production of Cats. 

As we fast forward to Cats, Larsen explains the experience has been amazing. As one of the senior cast members, Larsen said, she is looked at as the grandmotherly member of the cast who always cares for everyone like they are her own. 

The cast and director of Cats are rich in creative talent, she added.

“These young kids and adults too are just so talented. It is fun to watch every time I’m there,” mentioned Larsen. “Also, our director is just so creative with all the things he comes up with.”

She is savoring the experience.

“I feel the most alive when I am performing. It is just so worth it to me,” said Larsen.

Cats - The Musical opens Nov. 22  and runs weekends through Dec. 15 at Playhouse Merced. Visit the playhousemerced.com website or call 725-8587 for performance schedule and tickets.