Nicole Greenwood, María Fernanda Villava, Joe Monroe, Lauren Toste Martos & Haydee Canovas in G is For Gato. Photo: Teatro Tercera Llamada.

G is for Gato

Written by Kay Nilest and Haydee Canovas
Directed by Jay Marie Padilla

A review by Kate Barry

Entire contents are copyright © 2023 by Kate Barry. All rights reserved.

What do cats and banjos have in common? In Teatro Tercera Llamada’s original G is for Gato, a Cuban American storyteller finds herself traveling far and near, exploring the different relationships between felines and their owners. Along the way, this storyteller plucks the banjo and tells the history of the instrument with original songs. This one-hour bilingual play about furry companions and music leads with a lot of heart.

Haydee Canovas is a bright and engaging narrator with a banjo at the ready. She brings equal admiration for cats and songs and she is more than willing to share with her young audience members. Canovas does well to keep the pace of the show running smoothly while interacting with a multitude of cats and cat lovers. Her songs are clever and lovely as she leads the ensemble in choruses of “meow,” describing the mystical nature of cats and fondly singing of cats of all sizes and temperaments. As a co-writer of the show, I extend extra applause to her songwriting skills, especially her ode to a cat named Rosie, a sweet and gentle song about a playful companion.

After visiting her sick father, Canovas’ storyteller is inspired to write songs about cats on her banjo. María Fernanda Villava, Nicole Greenwood, Joe Monroe, and Lauren Toste Martos fulfill a wide variety of feline and human roles. Dressed in solid tan, gray, black, and white costumes and using random wigs, hats, and costume items, the small ensemble creates strong character choices that are clued in by their matching ensemble. Monroe and Villava do good physical work as cats with big personalities as they claw, stretch, play, and amble about at their own discretion. Villava brings lots of humorous moments as Princess, the dancing cat with an eye patch, and in another scene a cat owner who likes to do yoga with her pet cat. Nicole Greenwood playfully prances in one scene as Rosie, stubbornly refuses a yoga pose as a different cat and proves to be mysterious as a French transport later in the play; proving that no cat is the same. Lauren Toste Martos may be young but she brings a mighty performance with comedic timing. Martos comes in hot initially as a cat owner who cannot stand having one for a pet. She leans into the comedy of the scene with ease and proves she is a talent to be recognized.

Culturally and socially relevant Historical facts about the banjo are sprinkled throughout this play. The storyteller shares her love of the banjo and cats with great care while addressing not-so-happy facts about racism and darker moments in history with great compassion. With a song in her heart and banjo in hand, the storyteller in G is for Gato proves that music is to be shared with everyone. 

Featuring Haydee Canovas, María Fernanda Villava, Nicole Greenwood, Joe Monroe and Lauren Toste Martos

G is for Gato

Teatro Tercera Llamada

July 15 @ 10 am New Albany/Floyd County Library
July 15 @ 1 pm Clarksville Library
July 29 @ 10 am Fairdale Library
July 29 @ 2 pm Shawnee Library

Kate Barry has worked with many different companies around town since graduating in 08 from Bellarmine University. She’s worked with CenterStage, Kentucky Shakespeare Festival, Bunbury Theater, Louisville Repertory Company, Walden Theater, Finnigan Productions. She used to work in the box office at that little performing arts center on Main Street but now she helps save the planet. In 2012, her short play “PlayList” won festival favorite in the Finnigan Festival of Funky Fresh Fun. Her play “Catcher Released” won an honorable mention with the Kentucky Playwrites Workshop. She has written for LEO Weekly and as well. When she is not writing, she teaches yoga. Thanks for reading!