Cats is a musical based on ‘Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats’ by TS Eliot and is an adaptation by Andrew Lloyd Webber. Cats made its world premiere at the New London Theatre in 1981 and opened on Broadway’s Winter Garden Theatre the following year. The show closed in the West End in 2002, its 21st birthday, having closed on Broadway in 2000.
The show features mesmerising dancing, wonderful music and builds a fantastic atmosphere. There is very little dialogue in the show which is usually the main storytelling device. The dance numbers tell a very powerful story, with all the cats moving in perfect synchronicity with incredible musicality. One of the main group dances is the prologue, ‘Jellicle Songs for Jellicle Cats’.
There are very many different styles of dance on display: ‘The Old Gumbie Cat’, performed by Jennyanydots, played by Jane Quinn (My Fair Lady, Sound of Music, A Class Act), has tap dancing in it.;’The Rum Rum Tugger’, played by Marcquelle Ward (Cats, Jack and the Beanstalk), has a hip-hop influence to it; ‘Mr. Mistofelees’, who is played by Mark John Richardson (Billy Elliot, La Cage Aux Folles, Cats), is a magical number and Richardson’s pirouettes are outstanding – a truly magical cat! Another standout number is ‘Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer’, played by Harry Francis (Chicago, Wicked, A Chorus Line) and Georgie Leatherland (Come Fly with Me, The Nutcracker, Peter Pan), featuring two mischievous cats who perform a fantastic double act.
The defining moment of Cats is ‘Memories’. This song is sung by Grizabella. This part is considered to be the main role in the show, although the cat only spends around twenty minutes on the stage. It is a highly coveted role, with so many great actresses having played the cat over the many years and in the different countries it has run in. Most recently, Nicole Scherzinger and then Kerry Ellis played Grizabella in the revival of Cats in late 2014 into early 2015. In this production, Beverly Knight (Memphis and numerous albums) plays Grizabella. What a voice! Her performance of ‘Memories’ was incredibly powerful and emotional.
Cats has returned to London for a limited season. It opened at the London Palladium on 9th November and runs until 2nd January 2016. We loved the show and are very eager to see it back in the West End permanently.