Cats | Harvest Rain Theatre CompanyThe words enthusiastic, charismatic and dazzling first come to mind when reflecting on this musical spectacular as presented by the Harvest Rain Theatre Company. Cats as a production has been interpreted and performed numerous times on stages around the world, so it was exciting waiting with anticipation to see how T.S Eliot's novel 'Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats' would be treated this time by this particular theatre group.

There are so many levels to the production to comment on so I will start with a visual overview. The set was created by Josh McIntosh who was also responsible for the costume design. The shabby looking scene depicted onstage was that of a run down London theatre set during the Blitz of the 1940's, this provided the main arena for all of the cats antics and was a perfect setting to portray the home of the complex extended family of all the individual personalities.

At first it was hard to believe that you would be able to identify one cat character from the other, but as was the design of the direction, the musical unfolded with a series of almost 'operetta' style performances by the different cats. Giving you an insight into their relationship with the larger group and allowing for the story to develop throughout a series of different chapters.

The lighting, as created by the Lighting Designer Toni Smith, for the dingy broken down 'cat alley' as it turned out to be, was married perfectly with the continual soundtrack that was responsible for maintaining an intense momentum onstage. What made this performance awe inspiring for me was the utterly professional handling of both the choreography and singing by the cats! The soundtrack was electric, imagine a milieu of cats with different coloured costumes all dancing whilst singing in four part harmony to a rapid jazz/cabaret style sound! Well it went off without a hitch, great tribute must be given to both the Choreographer - Callum Mansfield and Music Director - Dale Lingwood.

The onstage spectacle that was delivered to the audience was of Broadway proportions and the 28 Cats whose names are too many to mention aided and abetted the success of the musical. Now, for a well executed performance one needs to give credit to the Director behind such a production, and for this Pro-Am version of Cats was Tim O'Connor. In his notes he gives credit to Choreographer Callum Mansfield stating that he took a more hands off approach to the direction because Cats was largely a musical centered around the dance. But to give credit where it is due, the treatment he gave this particular version of the musical was distinctly different from any other production I have seen.

has deliberately given this production its own unique flavour and one that is palatable for all ages. In the audience were people from all walks of life and demographic who were as enthralled and taken with the performance as I was. If it is a night of rapturous entertainment where you will be absorbed by the frivolities for the duration of your stay, which in the case of Cats is two acts divided by a very civil intermission, then make a point to get along to Cats at the Harvest Rain Theatre in New Farm.

I found that this eccentric, tailor made version of Cats took me on a colourful journey into the strange world that T.S Eliot somehow couldn't. I feel that as a result of the enjoyment of this wonderful visual tale I now understand cats a little bit better!

Harvest Rain Theatre Company presents
by Andrew Lloyd Webber

Venue: Sydney Street Theatre | 166 Sydney Street, New Farm
Previews: Wed 15 & Thur 16 Aug @ 7.30pm
Dates: 17 Aug - 22 Sept
Times: Wed - Sat @ 7.30pm / Sat @ 2pm
Matinee: Sat 1, 8, 15 & 22 Sept @ 2pm
Tickets: Adults $35 / Conc $28 / Child $20

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