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Review: Books, Theatre, Albums, Movies and Gigs

Cats

The Empire Theatre, Liverpool
October 30 – November 17

Author: Andrew Lloyd Webber
Director: Trevor Nunn
Producer: The Really Useful Company
Cast includes: Chrissie Hammond, James Patterson, Zoë Curlett, Patrick Clancy, Louisa Barratt, Zak Nemorin, Joanne McShane, Dean Maynard, Tania Newton, Stuart Ramsay, Matthew Gould, Luke Jackson, Craig Turbyfield,
Running time: 2 hrs 45 mins

Image: Cats Tugger


If there is one show that deserves ninety-nine rather than just nine lives, Cats is it and, really, what more can be said about a musical that has swept the board of awards, has broken box office records across the globe and still maintains its popularity each and every time it hits the road? Not much, in truth, except that Cats is still more than capable of captivating and enthralling as much as ever.

Cats isn’t just big, it’s massive and this production of the show gathers that size to its heart and plays with it like, well, a small Panthera Leo would play with a small Rodentus Domesticus.

For those who don’t know, the story is adapted from T.S.Elliot’s 1939 collection of poems, The Old Possum’s Book Of Practical Cats, and tells of one special night of the year when all Jellicle cats meet at the Jellicle Ball and where Old Deutoronomy, their wise and benevolent leader, makes the Jellicle Choice before announcing which of them will go up to the Heaviside Layer to be reborn into a whole new Jellicle life. To accomplish this, the cats have to show Old Deuteronomy what their life has been worth.

Image: Cats munkustrapOf course, the beauty of theatre is that it can transport an audience to anywhere in the world and from the very first note this show has the audience out of their seats, whisking them away to a junkyard and keeps them there, transfixed by the stunning choreography, the beautiful costumes and the high quality of the singing, as each cat in turn recounts the essence of their lives. Added to this is that the cats engage with the audience, jumping down into the auditorium and sitting next to people as the action unfolds, and so brings a different, and at times surreal, atmosphere to the show.

It is difficult to select only a few stand out performances, but Chrissie Hammond as The Glamour Cat, Grizabella, is quite simply superb, playing her part as the shunned cat of the pack who wants nothing more to return to the fold with so much emotion it is tear-jerking. Memory, of course, is THE song of the show and here Hammond matches anyone – including Elaine Paige – for the power in which the song is performed. Also excellent is Patrick Clancy as The Theatre Cat, Gus, who longs for the time when “theatre was what it used to be”, with such great depth of feeling.

The set is spectacular, the lighting dazzling and the music – well – the music is just faultless, though like all of Lloyd Webber’s musicals a little too reliant on one refrain. In short, there really is nothing bad to say about this show whatsoever, as special effect after special effect keep the audience’s eyes firmly on the stage.

Whether it is the first time or the hundredth that you have seen Cats on stage, it doesn’t matter because without doubt this production is as good as any that has gone before it.

LISTEN to Chris High on BBC Radio Merseyside talking about Cats.
Wednesday 07 Nov 2007

 

 

Image: Radio Merseyside Logo

Click here to view details and book for the Liverpool Empire Theatre
http://www.getlive.co.uk/liverpool


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“Writing gets me away for a while' from this world and into one where I, alone, can make or
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