Dixie stage prepared for production of 'Cats'

Wednesday, March 12, 2014
The Tribune has a good spot within the mural, painted by Elaine Cagle. Tribune photo by Jessica Moore

By Jessica Moore

Staff Writer

The set of the upcoming Dixie production of "Cats," is really a sight to see.

"It's a work of art," exclaimed Director David Sanders. "It's a feast for the eyes."

He recruited Set Designer Tracy Cross and Floor Designer Elaine Cagle to transform the Dixie stage. The two have chosen to work together on most of their projects for the show, and the results are fantastic. The painting on the front side of the stage was done by Nancye Hobbs.

"I can't begin to tell you how many man-hours went into this," said Sanders.

Cross and Cagle are no strangers to the theater. They each became heavily involved with sets when their daughters pursued theater as young girls. This is Cross's fifth production with Sanders. The two began working on the set for "Cats" before auditions ever took place. They had completed 85 percent of the set by the time the auditions for the show were held. Putting together a set as detailed as the one for "Cats," was not something that could be done overnight. Cross and Cagle spent hours upon hours researching. Cross focused mainly on the different aspects of the set and how to bring those elements to life, while Cagle focused on studying the Broadway floor and other stage floors for "Cats." During her research she noticed a wine bottle on every set floor so she thought of Picker's Creek Winery, here in Marshall County. Then it hit her, she would add a local flair to the mural on the stage floor. She then began to work different contributors to the play into the mural along with a few inside jokes for those who helped build the set. For example, the audience will notice a Diet Coke and a bag of Cheetos painted in the mural. The significance of those came from Cagle herself, as she snacked on Diet Coke and Cheetos while painting. The audience will also notice the Home Supply Store banner with a heart with the names Phil and Jerre painted on it, representing Director David Sanders' parents. The audience is bound to recognize others featured within the mural.

Both Cagle and Cross have put in countless hours each week, working on perfecting the set. "I knew from the beginning it would be painted over. We just plan to take a lot of pictures," said Cagle, after being asked what would become of the mural when the show is over.

The two loved working together creating the set.

"It's kind of like our baby," said Cross, describing her feelings toward the project.

Tickets for "Cats" go on sale at the Dixie box office at 9 a.m. Saturday, March 15. The cast will be rehearsing that day, so ticket buyers are invited to peek into the theatre and get a sneak preview. The box office will be open three days a week, and tickets are also being sold online.

"We must sell every seat to every performance, or we could be in some sort of soup," Sanders said. "It's not impossible."