Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Having just found out that Cats the musical is based on the book by T.S. Eliot (incidentally the only poetry book I've read from start to finish), and having fond memories of the book, I found myself standing outside the Empire Theatre on a cold Monday evening waiting for the rest of the posse to arrive.
The Empire was packed; buses discharged their motley crew of kids and tourists, while the regular theatre-goers milled around in the reception. As soon as everyone arrived, we headed for our seats, on the 1st floor (or is it gallery?) A much better view than what I was treated to during My Fair Lady a year ago.
The musical itself revolves around a number of different types of cats as portrayed by T.S. Eliot in his poetry. For the purposes of a musical, the narrative is tied together by the main group of cats preparing for their ball, namely the Jellicle Cats.
Trying my best to recall the lines from the book, I managed to follow most of the early scenes, after which time our ears became accustomed to following most of the dialogue. Not that it really mattered, as the actors/actresses playing the various cats ( in appropriately skin-tight feline costumes and whiskers) did a great job in fleshing out various characters.
And they were all there: Skimbleshanks the Railway Cat, Rum Tum Tugger (complete with suggestive hip-thrusts and tail swinging), Bustopher Jones, the Cat About Town, Growltiger the Pirate and Mungojerrie/Rumpelteazer the Cat burglars. Accompanied by a score which was dominated by the iconic melody of 'Memory' and the theme of the Jellicle Cats, this was a treat to watch.
Personally I was looking forward to the segment on McCavity the Mystery Cat, who was one of my favourites from the book. However I have to say I particularly enjoyed the segment on Gus the Theatre Cat, which was both moving, epic and played with a straightforward melody that left the audience focussing on every word. Also, we were treated to The Awful Battle of The Pekes and The Pollicles, With Some Account of The Pugs and The Poms, and The Intervention of The Great Rumpuscat, which apparently does not get performed at every screening due to time contraints.
I think all of us enjoyed it. Esther, who apparently is a bit of a theatre buff, left planning dances and other cat-themed ideas for the medical school Smoker, and even Fas, condescended to call it 'interesting'.
So, all in all, Cats the musical - I enjoyed it no end, and still find myself humming tunes from Magical Mr. Mistoffelees.