3-14 June 2014
Reviewed by Debbie Tasker
We visited Venue Cymru, Llandudno last night for the first time. Travelling from Manchester the journey it took us around 1 hour 20 minutes. Venue Cymru is situated on the sea front and is easy to find. There is ample parking with entrances both on the promenade and from the car park itself. There doesn’t seem to be much seating in the bar/cafe area so I would suggest you arrive early if you want a pre-show drink and a chair. The auditorium is large and spacious and we had fantastic seats in the centre raised stalls. The building itself is looking a little worse for wear inside and out. There are lots of friendly helpful staff/volunteers scattered around happy to help. Toilets were again slightly shabby but clean. There are lifts if you cannot manage the stairs. Don’t let the look put you off, it is a great place to see a show!
Adapted from T.S Eliots ‘Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats’ Andrew Lloyd Webber was onto a winner when he put music to the poems. The show was first performed in 1981 and is now one of the longest-running shows in the West End and on Broadway and has been seen by over 50 million people worldwide.
The story is set on the one night a year they all meet up at the Jellicle Ball while Old Deuteronomy decides who will ascend to the Heaviside Layer (kitty heaven) and return for a new life. There is very little spoken dialogue and the story is told through music, dance and verse by a very talented and agile spectacular cast. The opening scenes involve the cats coming among the audience (which they do on many occasions throughout the night) whilst performing the song Jellicle Cats which explains the bones of the story. I must admit this bit was inaudible when the ensemble were singing/speaking together they were in my opinion out of sync and it made it a little confusing, but it was just a little blip in an otherwise superb evening.
Each character is progressively introduced to the audience by individual performances. I have had a think and I can honestly say I cannot pick out a favourite as I have so many! I love the comedy act of Munjojerrie and Rumpleteaser. The magical Mr Mistoffelees who performed great magic whilst being one of the most agile dancers I have ever seen. Skimbleshanks the railway cat had me grinning from ear to ear and Grizabella belting out the haunting track ‘Memory’ made famous by Elaine Page gave me goosebumps. I have seen this show on many occasions and usually fall in love with Rum Tum Tugger but for me last night he was just too camp to be the stud he claims to be (sorry Rum!). I hadn’t come across the Growlers last stand scene before and enjoyed the story telling involved.
The costumes are out of this world. Wigs and make up truly do make the cast look like our colourful feline friends. Each cat has its own mannerisms as they preen and roam their way across the stage always staying in character.
The set is a huge junk yard and it works very well with very little props. The lighting is excellent and would change the mood within seconds. There are a few welcome special effects and a floating spaceship, yes you read that right. I cannot fault any of the above.
If you want to enter a world of whimsical fantasy wonderfully staged with a score of pop, rock and jazz then look no further.
A brilliant cast make it a purrfect evening.
Tickets cost from £21 to £37.50 (plus £3 transaction fee).
Cat is at Venue Cymru until 14 June 2014. For more information or to book tickets click here or call the box office on 01492 872000.
Venue Cymru, The Promenade, Llandudno, Conwy, LL30 1BB | 01492 872000