5-10 September 2016
Reviewed by Katy Nettleton
Spellbinding, engaging and wonderful. These are the 3 words that describe CATS for me. I think I am in the minority when I say that I had never seen CATS before or even looked into it, if I am being completely honest. I had heard the “hype” about this Andrew Lloyd Webber masterpiece, but up until I saw it advertised as being shown at the Regent Theatre in Stoke I had not thought any more about it.
The show is based on the poems in the Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats and sees a number of cats coming to life during the night time, and the show is focussed around the “annual celebration of Jellicale Cats”. Jellicale cats are proud and do not like to let new cats into their group, and therefore the show takes a path where they do not welcome new cats into their group. However, as the show enters the second part the group suffer a number of setbacks and then decide to welcome a new cat into their group.
This synopsis may sound brief, however if I go into more details I will have told the story as the storyline is quite basic nevertheless that cannot be said for the staging, dance of singing.
In essence the show is focussed around dramatic music, lighting and dancing which brings cats to life! The cats engage the audience through walking around the auditorium and creeping up on you whilst demonstrating “cat behaviour” through the medium of dance. The poems from the book are sang out and with a couple of modern twists included. The use of a rapper and breakdance was a pleasant surprise and worked really well with the show, but not one that I would expect.
The show is famous for its song “Memory” and with chills up my back this did not disappoint. The voice of Grizabella (played by Marinne Benedict) was breath-taking, the power, tone and range was just inspiring and the way in which she effortless moved from the loud parts, to the soft soulful tones was just wonderful.
The dancing was in the form of tap and ballet (to the untrained eye) and incorporated a few modern touches including a bit of street (break dancing) by Marcquelle Ward. His rap was amazing, but I did feel his singing let him down slightly (or this could be due to the calibre of the rest of the cast). When the Company came together you could not help but be taking to a different place, to feel the pain and emotions of the Cats!
I think it is hard to review a show that has been running for 35 years and one that has grown with its audience. The “Andrew Lloyd Webber’s” magic touch of taking a rather plain into a musical which resonates with its audience is demonstrated throughout this show. I would recommend you to read the programme synopsis before watching to show as I do believe you may get lost with the “story” if not.
Overall I give this show 5 out of 5, and would say to anyone to go and watch it!
Tickets cost from £15 to £44.50 (plus £2.85 transaction fee).
Cats is at the Regent Theatre in Stoke until 10 September 2016. For more information or to book tickets click here or call the box office on 0844 871 7649.
Regent Theatre, Piccadilly, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, ST1 1AP | 0844 871 7649