In 1981 the idea of a musical about singing and dancing felines would have made even the sanest person sound crazy. Over three decades later the idea is still not very appealing to many. How can nearly three hours of theatre with little to no storyline possibly keep an audience entertained? To this day I still don’t know the answer, yet Cats has landed back on its feet at the London Palladium providing a magical and unforgettable night at the theatre.
Andrew Lloyd Webber’s beautiful score remains mostly intact complimenting Dame Gillian Lynne’s stunning choreography, which is delivered with such energy and perfection by the dancers on stage. Cats set designer John Napier continues to amaze with a set that twists and turns its way around the London Palladium, allowing the performers to appear all around this beautiful theatre. However, the strongest element of this revival is the talented and hardworking cast, and they all deliver such terrific performances.
Whilst the whole Cats cast was tremendous, particular standouts were Joseph Poulton’s Mr Mistofolees and Callum Train’s Munkustrap. Both performed the roles with such ease and slickness that it was easy to forget I wasn’t actually watching real life felines dance and sing for me on stage. Despite all round astonishing performances, there was one cast member that shone the brightest for me.
Nicole Scherzinger was outstanding as the former glamour cat Grizabella, and stops the show with her stunning and moving performance of Memory. I had often thought of this song as very overrated, yet Scherzinger’s rendition had left me completely and utterly speechless. I only wish Grizabella was a larger part, purely so we could see more of this talented actress and singer on stage.
There was one major flaw in this revival, and that was the modernisation of the character The Rum Tum Tugger. The production team had turned the lovable, ‘curious cat’ into a rapping ‘street cat’. Sure, the new orchestrations and beat were catchy, and the new choreography delivered by Antoine Murray-Straughan was very slick, but the character just didn’t fit in with the show anymore. At times the character felt like it belonged more in a rap-off then a West End musical.
Whilst the plot is sometimes too thin, and some of the numbers appear a little dated, this Cats the musical London production is a timeless and enchanting musical which every person should experience at least once in their nine lives.
Cats Review ★★★★
Reviewed by Jake Samson