Oh. My. God. Allow me to just catch my breath and calm down a minute. I’m a bit over-excitable.
On Tuesday night I took Moogle to see Cats at the Royal Concert Hall in Nottingham. I bought her the DVD ages ago and she is a huge fan. She knows all of the lyrics by heart, and she’s practically learned half of the choreography as well.
In case you don’t know anything about Cats (although I’m not sure how that’s possible) here is a brief history. Cats is a musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber which opened in the West End in 1981. It is based on Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats by T.S. Elliot and tells the tale of the Jellicle cats on the eve of the Jellicle ball.
Some people may think that the whole premise of this show, grown adults masquerading around as Cats, is a bit ridiculous. I would like to tell you now, I think you’ll struggle to find a more talented bunch of people.
This is one heck of a demanding show. The performers are utterly committed to their performance and demonstrate complete conviction in their roles. From the moment they step foot (or paw) on stage they are in character and don’t drop it for a second. The choreography is precise and performed with great precision. There were also some rather impressive acrobatics which I will spend the next month convincing Moogle NOT to try at home.
Even after the exhausting routines, the cast still managed to sing with clear, strong voices without even of hint of breathiness! I can only imagine how fit these actors must be to pull this off.
Not only that, but they can act too! Most of the show is light hearted and funny, but there are moments which were so beautifully acted, I may have gotten a little misty-eyed. I’ll be going into more detail on some of those moments shortly.
The ensemble cast was far too large to go into each performance individually but I will mention a few of my favourite moments from the show. The whole cast was simply phenomenal, but I did have a few highlights. Unfortunately, the programme didn’t include a cast list (which has made Twitter stalking the cast REALLY difficult) so I will use the character names instead. I have found an online cast list for you to check out if you like, although I’m not 100% sure these were the actors on the night.
Grizabella – One word. Memory. I am a bit of a traditionalist, and I am very much of the “Elaine Paige IS Grizabella” era, but seriously this woman had a set of pipes. I think I even preferred it to Ms Paige’s version, which feels like blasphemy to say, but still. When she reached the final verse, it was so powerful I got chills. Pure musical magic. I would have quite liked an encore.
Victoria – Also known as the white cat, Moogle was particularly looking forward to watching her dance the opening solo at the Jellicle ball. She was not disappointed.
JennyAnyDots – Otherwise known as the Gumbie cat, Jenny was so incredibly charming and performed the most awesome tap routine. I got serious dance envy.
Gus the Theatre Cat- The actor who played Gus (according to the website, so apologies if this is incorrect) also played Growltiger and Bustopher Jones in one of the most versatile performances in the entire production. Each character was completely individual but his Gus was particularly moving
The Rum Tum Tugger – This was probably one of the greatest surprises in the show. The character of Tugger has been redesigned from the rockstar tomcat, to a more urban street cat who rapped his number and showed off his break dancing skills. I won’t lie, I did miss the old style Tugger, but at the same time I do think it was a genius move to update his character and he was brilliant throughout!
Demeter and Bombalurina – Macavity is one of Moogle’s favourite songs from Cats and she was looking forward to it for the whole evening. It was a brilliant number and Moogle especially enjoyed singing a long (quietly, obviously)
Mr Mistofelees – The original conjuring cat, Mr M was amazing! His dancing was fabulous and he performed a magic trick that, even though I knew it was coming, I still couldn’t believe my eyes. Moogle clapped and sang her way through his entire number and I’m sure she wasn’t the only one.
The set design for the show was out of this world. The whole stage was decorated to look like a rubbish dump, with hundreds of different items of litter strewn around. The detail was incredible and you could probably have looked for a week and not have seen everything there was to see.
Cats really is the perfect family show and I would highly recommend you give it a try. It is an incredible theatre experience and it’s such a feel good show that it’s easy to see why people go back time and time again. I’m already looking forward to the next time it tours so that I can take Bug along – she’s a little Cats fan in the making too!
Moogle spent most of the show whispering to herself “Best day of my life” so I think it’s pretty clear it got her seal of approval. She was particularly excited when Mr Mistofelees and Victoria came in to the audience and both gave Moogle a cuddle and a bit of attention. She was over the moon and couldn’t stop talking about it the whole way home.
The only down moment of the whole trip was the interval. We popped out to the loo and when we came back some children were being allowed on stage to go and meet Old Deuteronomy. Unfortunately we were too late and Moogle wasn’t allowed to go up so she was a little gutted. Luckily for me, Moogle’s “Faithy Godmother” (a godmother called Faith, obvs) stepped in and saved the day.
Coincidentally one of Faith’s old dancing friends just happened to be in the cast (She was playing Demeter who sang “Macavity” and was amazing!). She very, very kindly agreed to meet us at the stage door and had a chat with Moogle about being in the show. (Thanks Helen – we really appreciated it)
Sometimes in life you have an experience that you just know you won’t forget and I ha no doubt this is one of them for me. As I drove my sleepy but very happy little girl home I couldn’t help but feel like I’d earned some good mummy points. I’m sure we’ll be talking about our trip to see Cats long after she’s fully grown.
If you’d like to see the spectacle that is Cats for yourself, you can find all the info on their official website here.