Cats - Musical ☆☆☆☆4
Showing from - Tuesday, January 26, 2016 through till Sunday, January 31, 2016
Loughborough Town Hall - Loughborough
Kathryn McAuley | Sunday, January 31, 2016
A new life has begun for Cats, as the first amateur adult production hit the stage last week. Christchurch Theatre Club paid homage to the original, with all its charm and uniqueness, whilst producing a really stunning, brand new version.
A revolutionary musical when first performed in 1982, Cats is based on Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats by T S Eliot and tells the story of a tribe of cats called the Jellicles and the night they make what is known as "the Jellicle choice" and decide which cat will ascend to the Heaviside Layer and come back to a new life.
Christchurch demonstrated once again that they are an amateur group in name only
The thin plotline is a device by which the characters of the different cats from the poems can be explored and a vehicle for choreography, which is the real focus of the show.
Michael Gamble, as Choreographer and Director, was clearly inspired by the original Gillian Lynne choreography, evident in the energy, wit and elegance of dancing, though the team was specifically restricted from copying any elements of the professional production. This included the stage set, which John Napier originally set in a rubbish-dump, but here was convincingly transformed into a city suburb. The opening scene was really magical, with layers of lighting and the rising orchestration working together to create an atmospheric anticipation. When the cats finally pounce and slink onto the stage, the unique costumes and attention to detail in the make-up and wigs add great character and transport us to their world.
This is an ensemble piece, where the whole relies on each individual convincing us they are cats, and I doubt there are many amateur groups that could achieve this as CTC did. Every arched back and licked paw, every extended leg and dip of the head created a convincing feline world. This strong characterization was carried through every element of the choreography, and with incredible energy, was sustained throughout. The singing occasionally suffered from the pace of the dancing but is extremely challenging in its own right and was superbly supported by the non-stop pace of the band.
The unusual storyline relies on a few ‘narrators’ to keep it moving and Rum Tum Tugger (Benjamin Hardy) and Munkustrap (Dale Collington) both had a commanding feline presence and great diction. ‘Mr Mistoffelees’ was a highlight for the many children at the matinee performance, with his wit and conjuring tricks, and was danced with a lovely lightness of touch by Craig Butterworth. The ‘Macavity’ number was a personal favourite, with mother and daughter Julie and Holly Easter as Bombalurina and Demeter, exuding feline sophistication and confidence through their expressive dance. ‘Memory’, the most well known song from the show, was given a rapturous reception.
Cats is a hugely challenging production for an amateur group but Christchurch demonstrated once again that they are an amateur group in name only.
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