Cats is an utterly spectacular musical in every way. Inspired by T S Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s music brings the lyrics to life.
The show takes place on the one night of the year when the Jellicle Cats come out to celebrate – and the one night when their leader Old Deuteronomy chooses one cat to be ‘reborn’ by going to Heaviside Layer.
The musical is made up of several songs, most showcasing the story of a different cat. Some of these numbers are significantly more captivating than others. Mungojerrie and Rumpelteazer (player cheekily and with such captivating spirit by Joe Henry and Emily Langham) and Mr Mistoffelees are both beautifully choreographed in the most feline of ways.
By far, for me, The Rum Tum Tugger is the stand-out number of the show. Furthermore, Marcquelle Ward as Rum Tum Tugger steals the show with his unique portrayal of such a classic role. The character is directed by Trevor Nunn brilliantly, and including rap and modernising the character is simply genius as it brings freshness to the show. The only slight question mark for me is the costuming of the character which is completely different to the totally realistic-looking cat costumes of all the other characters. Adding in chains and a baggy vest-top looks fantastic, but it doesn’t quite gel with the other cats – luckily, though, Ward stands out for all the right reasons so this isn’t a major issue.
Most people hear Cats and instantly think Memory. Marianne Benedict, playing Grizabella, has a beautiful voice but I don’t feel as emotionally connected to her as I would have liked. This makes the ending less emotional (no spoilers here, though), but the energy of the whole ensemble sent shivers up my spine and brought tears to my eyes at several points throughout the show.
The clear teamwork and energy between all cast members is striking – the slick choreography by Gillian Lynne looks effortless, yet to coordinate so many movements on stage is ridiculously difficult. It is breathtaking to see the fluidity of the performers, and how feline their movements are without being caricatured.
Special mention must also go to the Cats Orchestra, directed by Tim Davies. Having a live orchestra adds such a lot to any musical, and brought that extra sparkle to the production.
This production of Cats is overwhelmingly good – and I urge anyone and everyone to catch this at Leeds Grand Theatre while it’s still running – you have until 2nd July to book your tickets!
DO NOT MISS. I repeat, DO NOT MISS.
This is a show that will appeal to all ages, and to all tastes. To see so much talent on one stage is an absolute joy, and will put a smile on your face for certain.