209th Anniversary Season · America's Oldest · Founded 1809

Celebrate the Weekend with WST For Kids' GARFIELD: THE MUSICAL WITH CATTITUDE! Begins Feb. 3

February 1, 2017

Philadelphia, PA: Audiences of all ages will love Walnut Street Theatre for Kids’ production of GARFIELD: The Musical With Cattitude. The most widely-read comic strip in history comes to life on stage in a fun-filled story about friendship and home. Featuring the large, lasagna-loving cat himself and all of his friends from the original comic, GARFIELD: The Musical With Cattitude runs from February 3 to February 18 at Walnut Street Theatre.

GARFIELD: The Musical With Cattitude is based on the iconic comic strip, Garfield, by Jim Davis. Garfield, a chubby and sarcastic tabby cat, wants to have the best birthday of all time. He dreams of gourmet chocolate cake and an extra helping of lasagna, but Jon, Arlene and even his arch nemesis, Nermal, seem to have forgotten his big day. Feeling rejected, Garfield runs away in search of adventure, but quickly learns that "home is where the heart... and the food is."

The stage version of Garfield was first presented in 2015 by the Adventure Theatre Company in Washington, D.C. The book was co-written by original Garfield Creator Jim Davis and Adventure Theatre’s Producing Artistic Director, Michael J. Bobbitt. Composer John L. Cornelius, II complemented the hour-long production with original music and lyrics.

Even as the comic gained widespread recognition, adapting his prized two-dimensional cartoon characters for the stage still remained on Davis’ “bucket list.”

In an interview with The Washington Post, Davis said, “I’ve wanted to do a musical for years. I’d been waiting for the perfect opportunity and it came the day co-writer Michael Bobbitt knocked on the door. Our collaboration was seamless, and adding John Cornelius, II to do the music was the icing on the cake. Garfield: A Musical with Cattitude has a ton of warmth, humor, and charm. I couldn’t be happier than to share it with the world.”

Davis first launched Garfield as a comic strip in 1978. Thirty-eight years later, the strip has grown from a circulation of 41 newspapers to more than 2,100, making it the most widely syndicated comic strip in history. The comic strip’s unprecedented success on the funny pages led to a popular animated TV show, Garfield & Friends, which aired on CBS-TV from 1988 to 1995. Two feature films, Garfield: The Movie and Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties, were also created by Twentieth Century Fox, both starring Hollywood Actor Bill Murray as the voice of Garfield. Davis has won four Emmy Awards for Outstanding Animated Program and was inducted into the Licensing Hall of Fame. The National Cartoonist Society named Garfield as Best Humor Strip in 1981 and 1985, and Davis was awarded the coveted Reuben Award for excellence in cartooning in 1990.

More than 130 million Garfield books have been sold to date. As part of its educational mission, the Walnut Street Theatre for Kids series encourages families to read together and see the books come to life onstage. Thousands of local students attend WST for Kids performances and experience live theatre for the first time as part of school trips. A special student matinee performance is scheduled for Friday, February 3.

Brian Kurtas is thrilled to take on the dual role of Director and Choreographer for Garfield: The Musical With Cattitude. Regionally, Kurtas has served on the directing and choreographic teams for Damn Yankees and Ragtime in addition to last year’s WST for Kids production of Freckleface Strawberry. Currently, Kurtas is Walnut Street Theatre’s Casting Director as well as Assistant to the Producing Artistic Director. He is also a teacher at the Theatre School at Walnut Street Theatre. The Walnut welcomes back Mark Yurkanin (Zombie in Love, Freckleface Strawberry) as the Music and Vocal Director for this production. Marking her debut as Set Designer, current Walnut Properties Apprentice Laura Revelt stays true to the colorful, cartoon-like set of Garfield’s world. Elizabeth Atkinson (Harvey) makes her return to the Walnut as Sound Designer for this fast-paced musical comedy. J. Dominic Chacon (Miss Nelson Has a Field Day, A Christmas Carol) completes the design team as Lighting Designer.

The cast of GARFIELD: The Musical With Cattitude are all members of The Theatre School at Walnut Street Theatre. Playing the title role of Garfield is Rafael Martinez-Salgado, alongside Joslynn Cortes as Garfield’s love interest, Arlene. Garfield’s nemesis kitten, Nermal, is played by Faith Sacher, and Jacob Schrimpf plays the drooling but lovable dog, Odie, in the show. The four actors are current Walnut Acting Apprentices and will mark their debut on the Walnut’s stage as Garfield and his furry friends. Connor McAndrews completes the cast as Garfield’s gullible owner, Jon Arbuckle. McAndrews has most recently been seen as Marley in WST for Kids’ holiday production of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.

GARFIELD: The Musical With Cattitude is live on stage at the Walnut February 3 through February 18. Media partners for this production are Courier-Post and Mix 106.1. For tickets and information, call 215-574-3550 or 800-982-2787. Tickets are also available online 24/7 by visiting www.WalnutStreetTheatre.org or Ticketmaster.