A new production of Cats at Melbourne’s Regent Theatre provides many highlights thanks to the choreography and the cast’s skills and enthusiasm.
Interestingly there are some who aren’t so enthusiastic about the production, but then this seems typical of Cats. Some love the Andrew Lloyd Webber show – others aren’t fans at all!
The new production was recreated by the original creative team of Cats (which first took to the stage in 1981) and has been playing to packed houses in London’s West End. This Australian production features an all local cast.
Based on T. S. Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, the show tells of the Jellicle Cats who come out to play on one special night of the year – the night of the Jellicle Ball. One by one they tell their stories for the amusement of Old Deuteronomy, their wise and benevolent leader, who must choose one of the cats to ascend to The Heaviside Layer and be reborn into a whole new Jellicle life.
As always seems the case it’s the role of Grizabella – the broken down and on-the-outs glamour cat, that’s causing the greatest discussion. In this production it’s played by pop star Delta Goodrem. Some are praising her performance – others are critical. Most agree her performance of the show’s best known hit- Memory – in the second half is a highlight.
Personally I found the dancing the great joy of this production (although there are a number of strong musical performances). It’s extremely skilled and great to watch especially the `all cast’ scenes.
Highlights include the ballet solo of Christopher Favaloro as Mr Mistoffelees, the acrobatic work of Brent Osborne and Dominique Hamilton (Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer) and the tap dancing of Holly Meegan (Jennyanydots). Daniel Assetta shows his skills as rapping ‘street smart urban cat’ Rum Tum Tugger (one of the main changes in this production) while James Cooper is equally as energetic as the villain Macavity. Amy Berrisford and Sarah Kay Landy do a great job with Macavity, another of the show’s well known songs.
The stage design adds to the appeal of the production- the action takes place in a junk yard that is full of holes for cats to pop in and out of, although occasionally the `cats’ also venture into the aisles for a `play’ with the audience.
It’s this continual action and the performances of the talented and energetic cast which makes Cats so appealing.
Cats is playing at Brisbane’s Lyric Theatre from January 29 to February 14, Adelaide’s Festive Theatre from March 18 to April 10 and Perth’s Crown Theatre from April 16 to May 8. Visit the Cats website for further ticket information.
*Jenny Burns attended the opening night of Cats as a guest of the production.