4-9 July 2016
Reviewed by Dawn Watson
The last time I saw Cats I was only 24 years old, some 24 years ago, so I was delighted to be able to go along and see one of my favourite musicals again.
I was fascinated to discover how Cats became the show it is today. Andrew Lloyd-Webber was looking for something new and in late 1977 he decided to do something with his favourite childhood book which was a book of poems by TS Elliot called ‘Old Possums’s Book of Practical Cats’. This was new to him as normally he would compose his music first and have someone help write the lyrics to his music, now he had to compose music to existing lyrics/words.
Cats the musical was born in May 1981 with the wonderful Elaine Page taking a leading role. Cats became a well-loved show and has become one of the most well-known shows by Andrew Lloyd-Webber.
The whole show revolves around a junkyard and tells the story of a full cast of cats characters and their varied antics in a world with no humans and how they all interact and how their differing characters survive. The words from TS Elliot’s poems come alive in the opening number when Victoria, a young white cat dances and invites all the other cats creeping out from amongst the junk to ‘Jellicle songs for Jellicle Cats’. As a cat lover you can really see how clever the actors bring alive their characters with their movement and dance – whether it be Rum Tum Tugger who loves to be the centre of attention and Bustopher Jones who is larger than life and certainly a cat who likes his food! And of course my favourite Grizabella, the Glamour Cat, shunned by the Jellicle Cats who have not forgiven her for leaving them many years ago, she is desperately trying to become back into their group but is constantly frightened off.
Through the many songs like Mr. Mistoffelees, Macavity and of course the famous ‘Memory’ the story evolves through wonderful dance routines round the Jellicle Ball, a once in a year coming together of all the Jellicle Cats to rejoice and enjoy their time together. Their leader, old Deuteronomy has the task of choosing one of the Jellicle Cats to go on a journey of rebirth and a new life.
Through both acts the dancers show wonderful talent of modern dance, tap and gymnastic moves which were superb and their singing ability was beautiful. The cast really brought their characters to life in such a simple creative stage backdrop. Each character had something special and unique to them and we loved Macavity – the villainous mysterious cat which the others are all a bit scared off, he kidnaps old Deuteronomy but with the help of Mr. Mistoffelees Old Deuteronomy is reunited with the others.
The climax of the show was the choosing of the cat to have a second chance… and following a breath-taking performance of Memory by Grizabella and Jemima – Old Deuteronomy of course chose Grizabella – the previously shunned Glamour Cat. The performance of Memory gave me goosebumps such an iconic song and a truly wonderful rendition by Marianne Benedict, a beautiful voice and for me really brought the show to a wonderful climax.
The show was brilliantly done and beautifully choreographed – a truly loved show proved by the standing ovation given for the opening performance.
I loved this show and brought back my love of it from many years ago. I would say with modern touches to add a more up to date mood to the whole show. Costumes and staging were brilliant
I would definitely recommend this show!
Tickets cost from £15 to £50 (plus £4 transaction fee).
Cats is at the Edinburgh Playhouse until 9 July 2016. For more information or to book tickets click here or call the box office on 0844 871 3014.
Edinburgh Playhouse, 18–22 Greenside Place, Edinburgh, EH1 3AA | 0844 871 3014