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Erica Lee Cianciuli knows all about the character ‘Bombalurina’ in the Broadway musical ‘Cats.’
The Harleysville native has been ‘Bombalurina’ in three different iterations of ‘Cats’ since 2019. Twice she was one of the stars of the show on Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines. Now, she’s back in the junkyard as ‘Cats’ comes to Philadelphia as part of the traveling Broadway show at the Miller Theater on the Kimmel Cultural Campus, March 14-19. Tickets are available at Kimmelculturalcampus.com.
Cianciuli, though, has a confession to make.
“I’m more of a dog person,” Cianciuli said. “Yeah, I’ve never owned a cat. But, my grandfather owned cats. I’m actually the only person in my family allergic to cats.”
‘Cats’ the show, though, is another story.
“I really, really love this version of the show,” said Cianciuli. “This touring version is the revival, so there’s more updates to lighting and sound and the choreography is great.”
Despite her aversion to cats in general, Cianciuli doesn’t mind taking the hours to get into the character ‘Bombalurina’ for each night’s show.
“I usually start with my makeup,” Cianciuli said. “It takes me about 45 minutes to do my makeup. Then I get my hair done and I start warming up my voice. I leave my body as the last thing to warm up, because that opening number is a tough. It is one of the most iconic opening numbers in the history of theater. So, I always wanna do it justice. So I would say, in all, it takes me about two hours to fully warm up for the show and get into hair and makeup and costume. ”
Which is something Cianciuli has been doing for three years (minus the pandemic year, of course).
“I saw ‘Cats’ on the first national Broadway tour at the Forrest Theater (in Philadelphia) in 2001 and 2005,” Cianciuli said. “It’s easily my favorite show of all time. So, this kind of feels full circle.”
When she takes the stage at the Miller Theater, Cianciuli will have a large section of friends and family singing along.
Her mother, Catherine, owns the Conservatory of Music and Dance, which has studios in Eagleville and Worcester.
“(Chatherine) actually went to school for classical voice and opened up her first dance studio 35 years ago,” Erica Cianciuli said. “I grew up in her music and dance studios. I have three older brothers as well and they’re also all involved in the arts. So, everybody except my dad, he takes care of all the, the billing with the business and everything.
“Right now, it’s a more like a kids’ theater, so I’ll come home once in a while and teach for her. One of her goals is working on building a community theater.”
There will be a bus-full of fans making their way to Center City to see Cianciuli on the big stage.
“That’s gonna be a really special show,” said Cianciuli. “There are going to be dance teachers, old school teachers, riends from growing up that are gonna come, coming to the show. It’s gonna be really, really special, especially because this is my first time performing professionally in Philadelphia.”
Cianciuli is not all about ‘Cats,’ though. She has performed around the country in different musicals like ‘Pippin,’’ Dirty Dancing: The Classic Story On Stage,’ and ‘Spamalot.’
She now has her sights set on even bigger stages.
“Hopefully after this tour, after this contract is to focus on my Broadway debut,” Cianciuli said. “Broadway is the overall goal. I think I’m at a point in my life where I’m, I’m really ready for it.”
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