By Patricia Rettig
Actress Kristen Noonan just can’t keep her feet on the ground. And in the current production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Cats” at Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre, her high-reaching talents have brought the famous musical to new heights.
A skilled aerial artist, Noonan worked with the show’s director, Buddy Reeder, and producer, Eddie Curry, to incoporate silks into the choreography – giving the audience an unforgettable performance high above the stage.
“I was thrilled that they decided to include (the silks),” she said. “Buddy has been so incredibly supportive of the aerial work; he basically gave me the music and let me do my thing.”
A competitive rhythmic gymnast for five years, Noonan became a Junior Olympic Level 7 National Champion in the rope event, and 6th in the nation all around.
“I competed until Level 9 and then became an exhibition gymnast before getting more involved in musical theatre (at Carmel High School),” she said, crediting her new interest to the school’s choir director Lamonte Kuskye. “His passion is contageous!”
After graduating in 2005, she went on to study at Anderson University, where she earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Music in 2009, with a minor in voice and dance performance. She refers to her degree in music as “a personal feat, in that I started with very little musical training and by the end I was singing opera.”
“The musical, dance, and theatre training I received at Anderson University further equipped me to be the multidimensional artist I am now,” she said.
Eventually, her skills took to the air.
“I’ve been training silks in particular for four years and have taken on other aerial apparatus along the way, including lyra (aerial hoop), trapeze, rope, and wrist loops as well as harness and wire flying effects,” she said. “I love aerial dance because it draws upon my rhythmic gymnastics background and takes my performance to a whole new level – no pun intended. I am having so much fun in “Cats,” using several of my abilities at once.”
Those abilities include her voice, which also reaches impressive heights in “Cats” – showcased in particular during the scene “Growltiger’s Last Stand,” a comedic scene featuring an Italian aria.
Now a dance teacher and choreographer, Noonan is also the assistant aerial choreographer for Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines. This summer, she will be teaching and choreographing for Michigan Technological University’s Aerial Dance Intensive. But she continues to hone her own aerial skills, even working with Dreya Weber, Pink’s aerial choroegrapher.
“Cats” by Andrew Lloyd Webber ● Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre ● 9301 Michigan Rd. in Indianapolis ● 8 p.m. February 14 through March 30; additional matinee and Sundays shows at alternate times ● Tickets start at $38.50 and include a dinner buffet ● For more information call 872-9664 or visit www. beefandboards.com.