Dynamic Duo

It's All About Cats' Dynamic Duo, Mungojerrie & Rumpleteazer, Jess LeProtto & Shonica Gooden

August 18th, 2016 by

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It's All About Cats' Dynamic Duo, Mungojerrie & Rumpletea...

One of the most joyful parts of Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical phenomenon Cats is the troublesome pair of house cats Mungojerrie & Rumpleteazer. They come out on stage, sing an awesome duet, do crazy tandem cartwheels, and pretty much stop the show. In the first-ever Broadway revival, the dynamic duo of Jess LeProtto (Newsies, On the Town) & Shonica Gooden (Bring It On, Hamilton) play Mungojerrie & Rumpleteazer, respectively. Read on as they talk about their shared love of comedy, their pre-show rituals, and their future variety show.


My first impression of my co-star:

Jess:
Wow! This girl is a firecracker. I'm gonna have a good time partnering with her!

Shonica:
When I first met Jess during American Dance Machine, I was in awe of how incredibly talented he was, a little high-jumping fireball that had the swagger of a “Fred Astaire” and I was like, “Who is this guy that everyone naturally gravitates toward?”


Moment I knew we had a special connection:

Jess:
The first day of rehearsal. Right off the bat, she was so hilarious and I already knew I was in for a treat. 

Shonica:
The moment I knew we had a special connection was when we started to discuss American Comedy stand-ups and movies. I honestly was so surprised at how diverse his taste in comedians and movies was. However, I am still in shock that he has seen every great comedy movie there is except Eddie Murphy’s “Coming to America, the greatest comedy!


I think our most memorable rehearsal had to have been:

Jess:
The Sitzprobe rehearsal! I loved the moment when the band started playing "Mungojerrie and Rumpelteazer." It felt real and so amazing to have Shonica by my side. 

Shonica:
The first time we performed our number in front of the entire cast. I was so proud of us for making it all the way through the number, with quality and energy. We could literally feel our cast sending us positive vibes, wanting us to “win.” It was in that moment that I knew that I was a part of a family that was selfless and had real love for one another.


My favorite moment we share onstage:

Jess:
Definitely our number together, but also our bows at the end of the show. We enter twirling our tails! I get a kick out of it every time we do it.

Shonica:
My fave moment onstage with Jess is honestly every moment; he is so much fun onstage because he is a “natural born comedian” and always gives 110% which pushes me to do the same.


Most random or unique ritual we share:

Jess:
I remember back in the rehearsal studio, Shonica would start improvising dialogue off on the side as Rumpelteazer before our number. This would get us hyped up and prepared beforehand. I loved it and immediately went along with it.

Shonica:
We always share a hug before our safety call prior to show time for the assisted cartwheels. I wouldn’t necessarily say our ritual is unique or random, quite honestly I don’t really know if it’s really a ritual more than I would say it’s mostly just a “connection” moment to share before we take the stage, a chance to connect our spirits and energies.


Three words I would use to describe our number:

Jess:
Dynamic. Energetic. Cardio.

Shonica:
Fierce. Playful. Fearless.


Off-stage, my co-star and I bond over:

Jess:
Comedy and our favorite comedians that we grew up watching as kids. For opening night, Shonica got me a book about the history of American comedy. So sweet!

Shonica:
*Refer back to question #2.


Another dream project for us to do together would be:

Jess:
I say any opportunity to work alongside this gal. She's the best. Maybe a variety show. Ooh that'd be good!

Shonica:
A TV show or a feature film! Any takers?!


I’m in awe of my co-star’s ability to:

Jess:
Just be insanely talented and have such a wonderful personality and work ethic. I am a very lucky partner!

Shonica:
I am in awe of his ability to remain so positive and carefree in the midst of the craziest storms.


Song I’d use to describe my co-star’s personality:

Jess:
"Sweet Georgia Brown"!

Shonica:
LMFAO’s “Sexy and I Know It” is the first song that comes to mind because he has a sense of humor very similar to this duo. I’m literally cracking up laughing right now as I type this because I can totally see Jess performing some crazy, silly routine to this. His humorous routines got us through a lot 10 out of 12 (rehearsal til midnight) days.

See Jess LeProtto and Shonica Gooden absolutely slay in 'Cats' at Broadway's Neil Simon Theatre.