Popular Theatre Production Running Until Saturday Night
Leah Hamer || Setpember 9th
Musicals are my guilty pleasure. The Rocky Horror Show, The Phantom of The Opera, Les Mis, Hairspray - those are my winners, hands down. Until last night, Cats was completely alien to me. Well, I am a dog person… But with an open-mind and a healthy helping of curiosity, I headed to The Regent Theatre to watch Andrew Lloyd Webber’s pride and joy on stage for the first time.
Based on T.S. Eliot’s Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats, the adapted play revolves around the story of a group of felines, known as the Jellicle Tribe and focuses on telling the tales of each individual cat through song. As the story progresses the cats all go to a ball, during which one cat will be selected to be reborn and begin the next of their nine lives.
As with most theatrical productions, it was a visual feast. The costumes were steam-punk meets Battlestar Galactica meets Flashdance. All lycra and rhinestones and crimped hair. The set was this colourful junkyard, with a backdrop of a shining moon and twinkling stars. The entire theatre was covered in fairy lights- used throughout to reflect the change in mood and reveal glowing green and red cat eyes.
On several occasions, I jumped right out of my seat. Firstly at the very beginning, when the lights dimmed down and suddenly a man dressed as a black cat in a tuxedo with green LEDs over his eyes sprung out of the aisle right by our seats. Then again during the battle with the villain when a firework exploded suddenly and the room was encompassed in darkness.
Despite the difficulty of keeping up with the extravagant names (there’s a Mr. Mistoffelees and a Mungojerrie and a Rumpleteazer and an Old Deuteronomy), it was easy for me to form favourites immediately. Flashy lothario Rum Tum Tugger was the cat for me- donning a baseball cap and chains- he is the modernised version of the original character, reflecting the adaptation process that Cats has undergone in order to remain current. Then, as a sucker for a baddie, the evil Macavity had me on my toes, despite only a brief appearance in the second act.
Each song was filled with life and every dance was performed in exquisite synchronisation that is bewildering to someone with two left feet. The showstopper of course came from the female lead, Grizabella, and the famous Memory. Her voice was incomparable, and as with all the other classics like I Dreamed A Dream and Defying Gravity - it was an ovation moment.
A manic, endearing crowd pleaser, Cats is a joy for all the family and the cast and production staff must be praised for their wonderful performances. Maybe I am a cat person after all…