Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Nottingham Royal Concert Hall

I must admit, I'm not a massive fan of the four legged cats, even though they've taken to me in the past, and when it comes to the Lloyd-Webber musical, based on Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats by T. S. Eliot, well let me just say, it won't be going down as my favourite musicals of all time.

Directed by Trevor Nunn and choreographed by Gillian Lynne, Cats first opened in the West End in 1981 and then with the same creative team on Broadway in 1982. It won numerous awards, including Best Musical at both the Laurence Olivier Awards and the Tony Awards.

I thought the introduction of the various cats and the way their personalties were presented was lovely, and you can tell that Lord Andrew has spent many an hour studying various cats to get this just right.

For me though there were parts which, I felt, could have been cut and shortened the  musical as they felt like fill in balletic sequences which didn't add to the story, and I noticed more than a couple of audience members looking at their watches in these parts.

My main take on the story was the re introduction to the cat fraternity of Grizabella by Old Deutronomy, Grizabella, played originally by Elaine Paige in the 1981 production, played in tonight's show by Joanna Ampil and Old Deutronomy by Nicholas Pound. The other cats had shunned the aged Grizabella who tried to prove that she was still a cat who could cut the mustard, but failed. Old Deutronomy though obviously saw the good in the old cat and she is chosen to be the one to go to the Heaviside Layer and be reborn to a new Jellicle Life.

For me the music was a bit hit and miss and while there were some good songs in  "Magical Mr Mistofolees", "The Old Gumbie Cat", "Skimbleshanks" and "Memory" most of the others were nothing more than fillers for a musical compilation album.

I was very impressed though with the cast, who not only used all of the stage but the auditorium as well, strong vocals and some very athletic contemporary and ballet dancing. How they managed to sing and do all of that at the same time,shows the work that has obviously gone into this production. I loved the lighting and the effects, the scrapyard set, and more than top marks for the costumes and the make up.

I don't enjoy making catty remarks about an area of the arts world I love, but I just wasn't feline it with this musical. Even though it's been running so long, for me it wouldn't be a cat-astrophy if it closed because there are so many more great
mew-sicals touring, and could tour, in it's place, but I'm pleased that I did get to see it, even though for me it wasn't purrr-fect. I'm sure not everyone will agree with me but hey, that's what makes the theatre so great.

"Cats" is running at the Royal Concert Hall until Saturday 26 April 2014

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