Cats, the musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber, is based on Old Possums Book of Practical Cats written by T.S. Eliot. It’s an unusual blend of song and dance and tells the story of the Jellicle Cats as they gather for the annual Jellicle Ball. The show introduces a number of different cat characters, one of which will be chosen to go the Heavyside Layer and be reborn into a different Jellicle life.
Unfortunately, the Mets’ production lacks energy and variation and the story and music seem to take a back seat to the slick and energetic choreography. The technical aspects are a little lack lustre too, with audio that sounds like it has been heavily compressed and strips the singers and orchestra of a lot of live dynamics, while the lighting design and set design could do with more interest.
The choreography by Carmel Vistoli is well drilled with some stand out dance by Ali Walsh and Roberta Potamianos. Unfortunately the chorus singing is not quite as well rehearsed with the singers often out of time with the orchestra and each other (perhaps the booth singers have a delay), and poor diction making the lyrics often impossible to understand. Occasionally the energetic choreography also left the cast too out of breath to sing well.
Director Leonie Osborn and Musical Director Ben Saunders have found a few very good moments with standout performances from Jared Frost in the role of Munkustrap who sings beautifully, and Barry Hill as Gus the Theatre Cat, who brings some much needed character and depth to the performance. Raymond Cullen and Roberta Potamianos are also entertaining as Mungojerrie and Rumpleteaser, while Eve McMillan and Kate Bonney are well cast as Jellylorum and Jemima.
Cats doesn’t have much of a storyline. It relies heavily on great production values, strong characterisations and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s score, and, although this production has some nice moments, it fails to become the unforgettable memory it promises to be.
Reviewed by Ceri Horner
Venue: The Arts Theatre 53 Angas Street, Adelaide
Season: 7 – 16 May 2015
Duration: 2 hours 29 minutes