NME After Print: CATS
CATS is at Popejoy Hall, and it is a delight to watch! CATS, written by Andrew Lloyd Webber, follows a group of cats invited to a ball where one of the cats will have the chance to be reborn - experiencing a new life. The musical is inspired by a collection of poems "Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats" by T.S. Elliot. Stepping into the theatre, the first impressions of what you’re about to experience is very clear. The set design is beautiful. It was so elaborate. The longer you look at it, the more details would pop out at you. Behind the physical set of the stage is a beautifully painted background with the “Jellicle Moon” and stars. The set design is exceptional for the Popejoy stage, and the audience interaction is beautiful. The portrayal of moods and scenes is great. The orchestra made you feel as if you were there and gave the show that 80’s vibe, well, that and the leg warmers. The set isn't just there to be a set. The characters genuinely interact with it, utilizing the multiple exits and entrances throughout. The cast was able to interact with the environment, making the junkyard set feel more like a town for characters and less like a junkyard.
The portrayal of the Jellicle Cats is amazing. At times, the exaggerated movements and acrobatic routines made it feel like you were watching a group of cats interact with each other. At times, especially towards the beginning of the show, the group choreography was disjointed. It seemed like many of the dancers were doing solos when the choreography called for togetherness. After the first few songs, the movement became a lot more fluid. The dancers worked a lot better with each other, especially with the scene in the second act, “The Awful Battle of the Pekes and the Pollicles,” which they executed perfectly. When it comes to individual performances the scene “The Gumbie Cat” in the first act was performed wonderfully by Emily Jeanne Phillips, who played Jennyanydots, the character most focused on in the scene. She brought a lot of energy to the tap number and gave life to the character. McGee Maddox is amazing as Rum Tum Tugger. Throughout the show, he breathes life into the character. The egocentric attitude matches well with this feline.
This article would not be complete without talking about the performance of Keri Rene Fuller. She is brilliant as Grizabella. Her voice is beautiful, matching the rundown cat she portrays. When she sings “Memories,” it resonates. It's not your typical sad song. It has layers of emotion and delivers it perfectly.
Tonight was an excellent experience.
CATS will be at Popejoy Hall from May 16th-19th. Tickets are available at http://popejoypresents.com/2018-2019-season/cats/cats