REVIEW: CATS, Winter Gardens, Blackpool

CATS at Blackpool Opera House

CATS at Blackpool Opera House

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Andrew Lloyd Webber’s mesmerising music is wowing audiences this summer.

Just over a week into its run at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool the fabulous musical “CATS” is already packing the place.

And quite rightly so because fabulous doesn’t even come close to describing this spine-tingling journey into the feline world.

The slinky cats creep and prowl and skulk around the stage – some sleek and velvety, some rough and furry, some old and sad, some young and edgy.

And as they come and go darting and dancing from every nook and cranny of the brilliant junkyard set that is a sea of bottles, can, boxes and rubbish, their movement is so perfectly precise it is sublime.

Last week’s Wednesday night audience was spellbound at the sheer beauty of the spectacle of this musical that tells its story through the life and loves of cats – no humans appear in this tale that is based on T. S. Eliot’s “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats”.

On just one special night of the year, all Jellicle cats meet at the Jellicle Ball where Old Deuteronomy, their wise and benevolent leader, makes the Jellicle choice and announces which of them will go up to The Heaviside Layer and be reborn into a whole new Jellicle life.

Cats with such wonderful names as Rum Tum Tugger, Bustopher Jones, Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer, Skimbleshanks the railway cat, the villainous Macavity and the magical Mr Mistoffelees are all performed brilliantly by this young cast.

Singer and “Loose Woman” Jane McDonald plays Grizabella, the Glamour cat, who is shunned by the rest of the tribe after leaving to explore the outside world and now wanting to return.

Singing the theme song “Memory” she had the audience on its feet mid-way through the show as she began quietly and then belted out the number to a real crescendo. Stirring stuff.

But it is the dancing, prancing cats and the numbers such as the opening “Jellicle Cats” and “Mr Mistoffelees” that are the real show stoppers so bright, lively, colourful and exciting are they. A beautiful blend of ballet, gymnasics, magical music and daring dance.

The Opera House at the Winter Gardens has a real crowd pleaser on its hands with this musical that has proved timeless as it has wowed audiences worldwide for more than 30 years.

This is its third run in Blackpool, where the entire staging has come direct from the London Palladium, and it is the only place theatre-goers can see “CATS” North of London this year.

Directed by Trevor Nunn, it runs until September 5th, with matinee and evening performances. Tickets, from £20, are available from www.wintergardensblackpool.co.uk.

While there, why not pop into Illuminasia, the indoor illuminations and 3D show, which is also in the Winter Gardens?