Directed by Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech and Les Miserables) Cats is a strange and grand adaptation of the Broadway classic written and produced by Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber.
The cast is enormous with Dame Judi Dench as Old Deuteronomy, Sir Ian McKellen as Gus, Idris Elba as Macavity, Jason Derulo as Rum Tum Tugger and Jennifer Hudson as Grizabella to name a few.
Originally based on poems by T.S Eliot, Cats tells the story of the Jellicle Cats of London on their most sacred night as they meet to make ‘the Jellicle choice’ allowing one of the cats to ascend to the Heaviside Lair and begin a new life.
This adaption varies from the original in that some cats are missing while others have been merged character-wise. An example of this is how the story now largely follows Victoria (played by Francesca Hayward, Principal Dancer of the Royal London Ballet) who originally was only a dancing part but now seems to include elements of Jemima, a cat who is kind and curious and now speaks and sings.
Other notable changes are the comic relief in Rebel Wilson as Jennyanydots and James Corden as Bustopher Jones. These additions added some colour and got a few laughs but also delivered some very tired one-liners.
The new song for the film Beautiful Ghosts written by Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber and Taylor Swift is a lovely addition to the repertoire (Swift also plays Bombalurina in the film). Considering the following the musical has and how infamous the music is, adding something new was a risk, but it has definitely paid off.
When the first look was released in July 2019 the internet zeroed in on the CGI effects. Director Tom Hooper attempted to arrest fears saying that CGI wasn’t completely polished at that point and was better now, but he was wrong. Unfortunately the CGI is still strange to the eye, catching your attention at the wrong time.
Overall, Cats is a fantastic entry for those who have not seen it before or are being introduced to it for the first time. It continues with its themes of belonging and identity and this adaptation is as grand as the original stage if not completely immersive due to the character designs and CGI.