Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical Cats is brought to the stage in this slick, animated and electric production based on the words from TS Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book Of Practical Cats.
Whilst there is no straight storyline, the musical consists of a group of cats that have gathered in an old scrapyard at the Jellicle Ball to decide who will be re-born. As their leader Old Deuteronomy played by Kevin Jones is making his decision, all the cats are introduced through musical numbers.
The set is a creatively designed junkyard with different levels, entrances and exits hidden inside the set. The cats come through the stage and the audience throughout the show, during many scenes they venture out to dance in the aisles and acrobat around the stalls which keeps the audience completely entranced by the mystical cats.
There is no doubt that Gillian Lynne’s choreography is simply sublime, she doesn’t use repetition and whilst every move interlinks, each musical number appears fresh and exciting. Especially the large ensemble numbers such as Jellicle Cats and Journey To The Heaviside Layer. Complete with the costume and innovative lighting, it’s a visual masterpiece.
I enjoyed the modern additions to the show such as the updated version of a rapping Rum Tum Tugger performed by Marcquelle Ward, die hard Cats fans might disagree as it sways quite far from the John Partridge version, however it is a number packed full of sass with a modern twist. Similarly Macavity: The Mystery Cat performed by Demeter (Helen Turner) and Bombalurina (Megan Armstrong) is a commanding number, the dancers captivate the audience with their impeccable attention to detail.
Memory performed by Grizabella (Marianne Benedict) in act one and later reprised in act two is inevitably the highlight of the production. Performed with depth and emotion, Combe gives a sheer amount of power to the iconic Lloyd Webber song and she doesn’t hold back at all. Particularly during the reprise, it is bound to leave you head to toe in goosebumps.
Told through rhythmic and pacy narrative, Cats is a production bound to encapsulate every member of the audience by the flawlessly ageless choreography and superb characterisation. A musical both impressive and immersive, it’s a classic that has been revived magnificently on stage.
Cats is on at the Birmingham Hippodrome until the 4th of June and tickets can be found here.