I’m not a great theatre lover, I’ll easily admit to that, but I do agree that there are some theatre productions and musicals that one simply has to see during their lifetime, as simple as that. And having already seen Phantom and the Opera when it was brought to the Artscape a couple of years ago, it was no surprise to find myself being dragged through to Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats last Thursday evening in the company of my dearest wife and the rest of the Montgomery horde! :P
Despite being nearly at the end of its run, the play was proving to be as popular as ever and on entry we discovered that there was literally not an empty seat in the house – row upon row of people packed the auditorium as we settled back to enjoy the show. The stage had been transformed into a wondrous junkyard full of oversized junk featuring everyday items like tennis raquets and discarded tins, with dart holes and little dank corridors permeating every nook and cranny. Dotted in amongst this plethora of rubbish was a veritable forest of lighting and special effects gadgets in place, as come the actual show, you as the viewer were to be bombarded by a constant stream of excellent lighting and special effects trickery!
Now as for the musical itself, you must understand that I found it rather nonsensical and quite pointless at that, trying to weave in a whole lot of pointless information and attempting to tie it all up as a story – but then I guess you didn’t really come to this particular production for that now did you? As for the musical numbers, while most are rather forgettable and certainly don’t rank amongst Andrew Lloyd Webber’s best, you would be silly not to recognise one of his greatest compositions that does indeed worm its way into this particular play – and that is the sensational “Memories” of course, performed more than ably in this particular production it must be said.
Actually, on that note, all the musical numbers throughout the musical (apart from the one or two performed by that Brit with the screechy, high-pitched voice) were particularly well executed, though I must just make one small gripe (still ignoring that woman), this one being directed at the black operatic singer cast as the old Deuteronomy. Unfortunately his accent was so overbearing it was difficult to make out what he was singing about, leading to a horrible break in the story as you simply couldn’t follow what he was trying to tell you! So in other words, not cool at all.
As for the dancing however, man was the cast ever so spectacular. With twists, twirls, lifts and tumbles, the cast put in a stellar acrobatic performance that captured the lively energy of Cats to perfection and kept the audiences’ eyes glued firmly to the stage – all of which combined with some excellent musical performances, production values and special effects to make for a particularly smooth, polished and professional production.
Oh, and don’t forget the fantastic, if a little outlandish costumes and make-up that adorned each “cat”. Absolutely fantastic work done in that department, believe you me!
The show was a long one, breaking once about halfway in at the hour and a half mark, and as is the custom, some of the cats came to play in amongst the crowd, providing plenty of laughs and more than a couple of startles as well! :)
Overall though, I must say outside of the high production value of this yet again quality Pieter Toerien presentation, Cats left me feeling… well a little disappointed. Yes, it was excellent in every aspect of its presentation and acting, but the play is pretty meh as far as I am concerned. It’s whimsical and doesn’t really go anywhere, hurries to a conclusion and is quite frankly, quickly forgotten. (But I guess I’m in the minority on this one, seeing as it is one of the longest running plays across the world, so I’ll just shake my head and accept that I suppose.)
Still, at least I can now say that I have seen it in my lifetime – and hopefully now will never have to cross paths with it ever again! :P