Sunday, 1 December 2013

A Childhood Memory returns and CATS!

I was very excited to see CATS again this time at the Liverpool's Empire Theatre at the end of November.  This was my 10th visit to my second ever favourite musical of all time. I had a great seat in the stalls and very centre to the action on the stage.

 Cats at Liverpool (November 2013)

CATS is based on T.S. Elliot's Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats and the music is composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber.  The musical has a very special place in my heart going back to my childhood when I heard Memory sung by Elaine Paige on the radio.  This opened by eyes about CATS and this developed my desire to see the musical.  It wasn't until September 1995 that I finally got to see CATS live for the first time at Manchester's Opera House.

A few days before I went to see it the tour production in Liverpool I read a review by Catherine Jones, an Arts Editor, for the Liverpool Echo from the Press Night.  She summed up CATS like 'Tchaikovsky's Nutrcacker (with its succession of dances in the Land of Sweets) to introduce each character in turn with their own musical number' (Catherine Jones, 27th November 2013, in the Liverpool Echo).  I couldn't agree with her more!  CATS is so unique with its unique songs and dances for each of its characters.  You only need to think how different the characters are such as the playful but attractive Rum Tug Tugger; the mischievous Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer; the wise and well respected Old Deuteronomy; the hauntingly sad Grizabella who yearns to be accepted again and so on!

The UK Tour cast were exceptional with the singing and dancing during the performance and which is perfectly originally directed and choreographed by Trevor Nunn and Gillian Lynne respectively and recreated by Chrissie Cartwright.  I adored the CATS playground/junkyard lovingly designed by John Napier and complemented with the lighting by David Hersey.  Not only the cats 'playground' is restricted to the stage but it extends to the auditorium where the cats roam and mingle with the audience members.

I saw the tour production earlier in the year at Bradford's Alhambra Theatre (link to my blog) and there has been some slight cast changes since.  We had Sophia Ragavelas (who I saw as Heidi in Title of Show at the Landor Theatre in September) as Grizabella.  Still I saw Ben Palmer as Munkustrap and the 'unofficial' narrator; Oliver Savile as Rum Tug Tugger and Nicholas Pound as Old Deuteronomy and the cats' spiritual leader.  

I give absolute credit to the rest of the cast performing as the other cats who worked collectively and in unison in the story telling.  They interacted creatively the scenes of The Aweful Battle of the Pekes and the Pollicles and Growltigers Last Stand.  

I especially enjoyed Sophia Ragavelas's portrayal as Grizabella.  I felt for her when she was shunned by the cats community and she sang Memory so beautiful and convincingly.  It's one of the best portrayals I've seen on my CATS journey.

CATS is certainly a show you either love or hate.  For me I love it! I now look forward to a number of return visits to the show during 2014 at venues around the UK.  I highly recommend the tour production and further information including where CATS is/will be playing can be found on its official website.

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