Cats

The famous feline fantasy. £8.50 - £32.50
New Theatre, Oxford 12th - 30th December 2006.

December 14, 2006
Cameron Mackintosh and the Really Useful Theatre Company present an excellent show for Christmas theatre-goers of all ages. There is a storyline: cats meet to decide who amongst their number is to be chosen by Old Deuteronomy for rebirth. The relative merits of the nominees are discussed and, eventually the most deserving is chosen to journey to 'The Heaviside Layer' and be reborn.

The story is, as is true of many musicals, incidental. What the show is all about is a celebration of athletic dance, well performed songs and enough glitz and glamour to keep Liberace happy! From the opening prologue about Jellicle Cats, through 'Memory' and 'Macavity', and to the final instruction on 'The Ad-Dressing of Cats', the audience were held and entertained by a splendid ensemble performance.

Energetic and skilfully performed dance routines were cleverly intertwined with Lloyd Webber’s scoring of T.S.Eliot’s poetry. What always impresses me about successful musical performances is the way that energy is spread evenly between singing and dancing. This show is no exception. Stand out dance performance was by Zak Nemorin and Sarah Meade as Mungojerry and Rumpleteazer. Their gymnastic exuberance really captured the spirit of mischievous moggies and delighted the audience. Finest singing of the evening was the emotion laden 'Memory' by Dianne Pilkington as Grizabella – the faded outcast. A beautiful voice used to fantastic effect.

Lighting and set were most effective, shown to best effect in 'Mr. Mistoffelees' when coupled with the necessary flashes and bangs to complete the evening’s entertainment. I’m sure the show will continue to delight the holiday audience and I would advise people to see it if they fancy a good night’s entertainment. Schools break up soon, so the evening audience is likely to get more raucous as the run goes on – all the more fun, I should say!
Cats is a spectacular and energetic blend of dancing, singing and characterisation. The imaginative and lovely plot introduces the audience to the Jellicle cats and their journey in deciding who will become the chosen one to be reborn to a new Jellicle life. Each cat has its own individual personality and appearance, from the loveable leader Old Deuteronomy to Skimbleshanks the railway cat and the Grease-esque stud Rum Tum Tugger, who gives an amusingly saucy performance. The highlights of the evening come in the performance of the mischievous MungoJerry and Rumpleteazer with a particularly energetic dance arrangement of acrobatics and somersaults.

The vocal performances which stand out most have got to be the poignant and tear jerking song ‘Memories’ performed magnificently by Dianne Pilkington who plays Grizabella, the outcast glamour cat, as well as the unforgettable Mr Mistoffelees lyrics that will stick in your head long after the show draws its final curtain.

To add to the spectacular performances and creative choreography, the lighting and marvellous stage effects also contribute in creating the magic of the setting which is the cats’ playground. The whole show is a true visual spectacle, with every aspect exuding enchantment and energy.

Cats is everything it is promised to be, another Andrew Lloyd Webber masterpiece which is made more entertaining with the good use of audience interaction as well as the opportunity to go up on stage and meet Old Deuteronomy in the interval. Cats is an ideal show to watch for an enjoyable, fantastical evening which will have you singing and purring your way home.
I have been avoiding this musical for over 20 years.. I finally got persuaded to watch it yesterday.

WOW.

Amazing timing, choreography, creative movement and characteristation, clever use of set and space, incredible vocal prowess... all whilst performing acrobatics, good inclusion of audience participation and lighting to add to the visual spectacle. Just amazing.

It really made me want to dance and sing my way home.

An incredible cast - and well worth a watch.
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