REVIEW OF GRAND MUSICAL AT PRINCESS OF WALES
The facts please: Cats premiered in May 1981 in Londonand is one of the most successful and widely produced musicals in history. Thecatalogue of places where it has not been produced is shorter than the names ofplaces where it has been.
Why do you want to see it? Here is a short catalogue of reasons.
You love cats and you want to see them dressed like human beings(or is it the other way around?) sing and dance up a storm. You are a misanthrope (no that does not makeyou a fan of Moliere) and you don’t like people on the stage. After The Lion King there are not many choiceswhere this if offered and you go to Cats repeatedly.
You don’t like cats and go to see Cats to confirm youranimosity to the creatures while secretly enjoying a rousing, rip-roaringmusical done by humans pretending to be cats.
You want to warm up to T. S Eliot and assuage your guilt andignorance about poetry. You were traumatized in high school when you tried to figure out how the evening is spread out againstthe sky like a patient etherized upon a table inThe Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. Yousuffered psychological damage leading to post-poetic metaphors syndrome whenyou found out that The Waste Land isnot a John Wayne movie.
Well, with Eliot’s collection offeline poetry, Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, you found somethingreadable and very useful to Andrew Lloyd Webber for his lyrics for Cats.Served with music and memorable melodies, the musical lets you kill two cats(sorry, make that metaphors) in one evening. You can sound haughtier than thouin your literary knowledge and musical discrimination.
You find dialogue interferes with the flow of a musical and LloydWebber has obliged you with a written-through approach and provided an extraordinarilyrich musical score.
You are a dance aficionado and the music with Gillian Lynne’smasterpiece of choreography (with Andy Blankenbueler) is a choreographic,scenic and athletic marvel. She combines ballet, tap dancing, jazz and moderndances in a tour de force of a performing art.
You want a display of splendour, exoticism, glitz, extraordinaryenergy and sheer magic. Cats presents a kaleidoscope ofthese with sheer energy.
Your chances, realistically speaking, of convincing St. Peter toopen wide the Pearly Gates for you are pretty slim. You are curious about how atribe of cats chooses one of their group to ascend the upper Heaviside Layerand then return as a new feline. Maybe you can pick up some pointers from theplot of Cats to guide you to a place that has air conditioning, atleast.
You don’t like musicals that showcase only “stars” but admirebravura ensemble performances. Cats has a bit of both and a few names from thelarge cast may be à propos. Keri ReneFuller as Grizabella, the lady that sings the unforgettable “Memory,” BrandonMichael Lase as the wonderfully-named Old Deuteronomy, Emma Hearn asBombalurina, McGee Maddox as Rum Tum Tugger and PJ Digaetano as Mistoffelees.“Memory” is the only song sung solo and the rest involve more than one singeror the company. A pleasure to listen to.
Among the crowded list of creditsyou should notice that Trevor Nunn,one of the top directors of England, directed the original production and ithas been kept alive since 1981.
Cats by Andrew LloydWebber (music), T. S. Eliot (lyrics) and Gillian Lynne (choreography) continuesuntil January 5, 2020 at the Princessof Wales Theatre, 300 King St. West, Toronto, Ontario. www.mirvish.com/ 416 872 1212 or 1 800 461 3333