Cats The Musical is something that reminds me of visiting London as a very young child. To this day I can still remember seeing the Cats signs outside a London theatre and wanting to go despite not knowing a thing about the musical. Despite the shows hit song, Memory, being one of my favourite songs from a musical I had still never seen the show up until last weekend where I attended one of the evening performances of Cats at London’s Palladium.
Although my seat was up in the upper circle the first thing that you notice is the spectacular stage. I’ve seen many a West End musical production but the Cats stage is wonderful. The junk yard set spills out all around the stage and interestingly has 24 different exit and entrance points. Once the show starts it is clear that the lines between audience and performers is blurred with Cats appearing from all around the audience and with attendees of the production being invited on stage during the interval to meet one of the Cat’s, Old Deuteronomy. What I particularly liked is that once the show restarted after the interval, Cats started crawling back onto the stage before the house lights had even gone down.
The musical itself I found to be somewhat a disappointment. Although I didn’t have a clue what to expect from Cats, I had such high expectations and unfortunately it just didn’t reach them. The story revolves around the Jellicle cats who meet once a year at the Jellicle Ball. It is here that their leader, Old Deuteronomy chooses one cat to go up to the Heaviside Layer and begin a new Jellicle life. Unfortunately, I didn’t catch what a Jellicle cat was when it was it was explained at the beginning of the musical and although I got the grasp of what was going on I didn’t fully understand which ultimately I feel made me not get maximum enjoyment from the show. Although the musical wasn’t what I expected and I didn’t follow so much I can fully appreciate the dancing in the show. I’ve never really seen a show which focuses so much on the dancing element but Cats was high on its game with dancing. The entire cast are fantastic and at some points in the show they are extremely realistic to a cat. At this point I have to mention the superb designs of the Cats costumes, the level of detailing was incredible and truly helped you to believe you were watching real cats and not actors playing cats especially as every cat had its own unique colouring and markings.
Kerry Ellis, who is more known for her performance as Elphaba in Wicked, plays a fantastic performance as Grizabella the glamour cat. Who although isn’t on stage so much is ultimately one of the main characters. She provides a stunning performance of Memory arguably even matching Elaine Paige’s version. Her performance is one of those which make your hairs stand on end as it is so powerful and wonderful. It was everything I could’ve wished to hear for my first listen of Memory live in a theatre.
Although Cats wasn’t really my favourite musical at the end of the day it is a popular long running West End show and provides all the good elements of one. Considering my seat cost me only £20 and I still had a fantastic view I can’t complain one bit. If you’re looking to see a West End show that isn’t going to break the bank, go see Cats. However, my advice would be to perhaps do some background reading so you know more of the story. If you do chose to go and see the musical before it leaves London on April 25th go check out the Jellicle Ballroom in the Palladium which is open 2 hours before a performance. It is full of costumes from the show, art designs and free face painting.
For more information on Cats The Musical click here