Photo – Hagen Hopkins
Amidst surprise and sparkle, and orchestration that leaves you breathless, a choir of cats slide, scrape, scratch and bounce onto the stage at QPAC Lyric Theatre amidst the set design reminiscent of a junk yard in the middle of the city. Crawling in and out of junky-orifices that only a cat can appreciate, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s now famous production of Cats embraces the stage for a new cast and crew; a new audience waiting to see what all the meowing is about, giving a new generation a view on cats that predates any cat-calls that you may have witnessed on YouTube.
I’ve come to this age and stage in my life (reviewing for 16 years now!) having NEVER seen Cats. How could this be so? I leapt at the chance to be part of the audience on Sunday, to see why a show about cats could be so compelling.
A chain of events, like all things in life, lead us down a path: for Webber, he hitched his musical wagon to T.S. Eliot’s ‘Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats’ (with Eliot’s widow’s seal of approval) and when she brought the “too sad for a children’s book” unpublished poem, ‘Grizabella the Glamour Cat', Webber recognised that he now had the vehicle for a modern dance/musical. As Webber recalls, “Grizabella brought a different, emotional heart to the anthology and that to me spelled theatre.”
“Well, now, how about that...?” Cat-tap-dancing, cat rap, acrobatics, opera, battle-of-the-cats and one helluva party leading up to and through the Jellicle Ball, where Jellicle cats meet once a year, and one such lucky puss will be reborn. Enter Delta Goodrem, “singer, songwriter, performer, pianist, actress and philanthropist”, making her debut in theatre! Chosen for the coveted role of Grizabella, and performing the quintessential song, Memory, Delta shines like the stars and pulls the moon in with her heartfelt and poignant rendition of this beautiful melody. It’s hard to be the new puss on the block.
The orchestra, under the musical direction of Paul White, does not miss a beat. Synchronicity is the key factor and the Company make this show a magical event (yes, there is even magic in this production, too). A microcosm of life, Cats employs every device to rivet the audience to their seats, and what a treat it must be for the choreographer (Gillian Lynne), director (Trevor Nunn), designer (John Napier) and the whole cast and crew, to deliver this show with such ‘cattitude’: the audience lapped it up (I’m stopping now, mwahaha).
Every performer, from their tails to their claws, were faultless. As with any production of this magnitude, to single out talent would be cat-astrophic, as every puss had their place in making this production purrfect. I know, I said I was going to stop, but it cannot be contained. So many feats of fantasy in this show – there is something for everyone from young to old (and this is the demographic of the audience) and if you haven’t seen Cats before (are there any others like me out there?) then do yourself a favour and treat yourself to the best night out you will have, celebrating the joy of musical/theatrical and dance creativity that cannot be sur-pussed.
Lunchbox Theatrical Productions, David Atkins Enterprises and BASE Entertainment Asia in association with The Really Useful Group present
Andrew Lloyd Webber
Director Trevor Nunn
Venue: Lyric Theatre, QPAC
Dates: From Friday 29 January 2016
Tickets: from $74.90 (transaction fees may apply)
Bookings: QPAC 136 246 | qpac.com.au
Venue: Festival Centre
Dates: Friday 18 March to Sunday 10 April, 2016
Tickets: from $69.90 (transaction fees will apply)
Bookings: BASS 131 246 | bass.net.au
Venue: Crown Theatre
Dates: Saturday, 16 April to Sunday, 8 May 2016
Tickets:from $74.90 (transaction fees may apply)
Bookings: Ticketmaster 136 100 | ticketmaster.com.au