Lovers of cats, comedy and music can unite at a special event, created for arguably one of nature’s most sophisticated creatures. A Musical Comedy, featuring Dr. Barry Salwen and Tamar Gilad, will benefit Wilmington’s animal rescue, C.A.T (Cat Adoption Team). The show will be held at the Beckwith Recital Hall, located in UNCW’s Cultural Arts building on Saturday, May 2 at 4 p.m.
C.A.T was founded by Gilad in an effort to rescue abandoned felines from high-kill shelters. Cats are spayed or neutered if needed and also appropriately vaccinated for their age. Then, they are placed in foster homes that are provided by caring citizens of the Port City and surrounding areas until a permanent home is found.
“In the last few years, we’ve been working mostly with Columbus County Animal Control,” Gilad says. “It’s in a rural area. Many people don’t spay or neuter their cats, so the shelters become very overpopulated.”
Columbus County Animal Control is a high-kill shelter in Whiteville, NC. C.A.T works to minimize the number of euthanized animals by adopting pets that are close to their euthanasia date. C.A.T also has a special enclosure at PetSmart on New Centre Drive for a few of their rescues. There, they can be seen any day of the week. Many of the rescued felines come to C.A.T with compromised health and require special veterinary care. Sometimes it can take several thousand dollars to treat one cat, depending on the severity of circumstances.
“One of the reasons for the fundraiser is to help with the animals’ medical care,” Gilad says. “They can’t always be properly treated for everything at the shelters. Also, most of the kittens have to gain a certain weight and receive their vaccines before we can put them in new homes.”
Spring is also known to many shelters as “kitten season.” Many unspayed female cats give birth around this time of year, flooding the streets and shelters with homeless kittens. Every year C.A.T emphasizes the need for foster homes to the public for the orphaned or abandoned offspring.
“I actually just pulled eight kittens from Columbus County Animal Control,” Gilad says. “They are at my house right now, waiting for their foster homes.”
C.A.T has recently committed themselves to helping dogs and puppies at the Columbus County Animal Control. “We felt bad because they were euthanizing dogs and puppies left and right,” Gilad says. “We started pulling dogs from there and placing them in foster homes. So, now, we have a group in our organization that deals specifically with dogs.”
The Musical Comedy Benefit is aimed to help raise money for C.A.T, so that they can continue their services for our furry friends. Gilad will team up with longtime friend Dr. Salwen as they create an unforgettable performance.
Dr. Salwen is a well-rounded associate professor of music at UNCW with a doctorate, masters, and bachelor degree in music from The Juilliard School and also a diploma with the highest honors from Vienna Academy of Music in Austria. There, he studied under a Fulbright fellowship. Plus, he has taught master classes in Israel, Germany and China.
While his discipline has helped him receive such prestigious honors, Dr. Salwen also knows how to loosen up—even when playing classical music. Gilad is a piano teacher, and since she and Salwen are lovers of music, they felt a concert would be a great way to collaborate for the benefit. Although this is a performance about cats—and for the benefit of felines—audience members shouldn’t expect any live animals to be involved in the show.
The program will feature “Ode to the Lost Lamb” for voice and piano, “Sort of Für Elise” with apologies to Beethoven, and ”The Entertainer (Modified Without Permission)” by Scott Joplin. As the titles suggest, songs will be a bit off-kilter from what audiences tend to expect of the original renditions.
“It’s a combination of comedy, and what you might call classical concert music,” Salwen says. “I’m going to play some Beethoven and some Gershwin. I’ll also be playing a waltz and a variety of classical pieces, but they will be lighter than most and entertaining.”
“They are a little bit hard to predict sometimes,” Salwen jokes. “There will be several cat-related skits however. This performance is really just about helping the animals in a fun way.”
While Salwen grew up with dogs, his friendship with Gilad started him on the road to becoming a bonafide cat person. He even has his own rescue named “Squeaky,” who was originally a foster cat of Gilad’s. After Gilad asked Salwen to help her out, by letting the cat stay with him for a little while, they became fast friends. Salwen ended up keeping her.
“I would say Squeaky adopted me,” he says. “She was so affectionate and friendly and really made herself at home. She got very attached to me, and I couldn’t bring myself to give her up. She makes an array funny noises, which is how she got her name. Now, I like cats a lot.”
Tickets for the Musical Comedy Benefit are $12, and all proceeds will go toward medical care, and other expenses for the animals of C.A.T. They can be purchased in advanced online at http://catabove.com/catbeco.html or at the door 30 minutes before the event.
The Musical Comedy Benefit
Beckwith Recital Hall, UNCW Cultural Arts Building
Saturday, May 2, 4 p.m.