Association of Community Theatre
CATS Schools' Edition
Choreographer William Whelton
Musical Director John Barry
Director Val Watkinson
T. S. Eliot’s “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats” has such a collection of moggy characters. Lloyd Webber’s musical tells the story of the once a year “Jellicle Ball” where we are introduced to the different cats through their biographical songs. All the music captures the essence of Eliot’s poems and increases and enhances the drama of the piece. It was originally claimed as a revolutionary show, nothing of its kind had been seen before. It was a happy day when this show was released for youth groups.
The junkyard set offered the necessary setting for the narrative to unfold. Lighting gave the magic, and the sound gave depth and balanced orchestra and singers equally. It was the excellent in-house costumes, wigs and make-up that gave theatrical life to the individual characters.
Musically the standard was very high; everything from the cat chorus to the ascension to cat heaven was memorably delivered. All this was played by a first rate band. Direction captured the feline characteristics but it was the vigour of the choreography that infused performances. Every dance step was executed with flair, from the cats’ first entrance from the auditorium, declaring it as their territory.
Jacob Beresforsd as “Munkustrap”” explains the story for the reason of the meeting of the “Jellicle cats”. Jacob captivated the audience with his well defined presentation.
As the narrative unfolded we are introduced to an array of characters. They emerged from the ensemble and, after their individual contribution, they returned to the company of the others. This was team work at its best and this was the winning factor of this production.
Celebrating who they are, singing about their abilities and special traits, we meet Jennyanydots who was made a very likable “Old Gumbie Cat” by Emelia Mason. The prankster “Rum Tum Tugger” was next, and Adam Lambe made him the centre of attention.
Enter “Bustopher Jones” the flamboyant “twenty-five pounder”. Tommy Seymour’s diction and phrasing made this “love of food” cat so endearing. After police sirens are heard which makes for a quick exit, the empty stage is then the playground for “Mungojerri and Rumpleteazer”. Both Ethan Hadfield and Poppy Preston entertained, having great fun as the mischievous twosome.
There is one cat that all the other cats respect and that is “Old Deuteronomy” played and sung convincingly by Elliot Blyth. It is then time for “Gus, the Theatre Cat” (Sammy Stott) to tell his story of how he received seven catcalls aided by “Jellylorum”, beautifully interpreted by Mia Connor. The tempo quickens and the energy of “Skimbleshanks” the Railway cat” fills the stage. Sam Jones was the cat that couldn’t be ignored he skilfully told his tale of how the train could not start its journey without him.
We were then introduced to “Bombalarina” (Saffron Milner) and “Dementer” (Caitlin Medcalf) who sang and danced the story of “Macavity” with panache. And, not forgetting, came the magical “Mr Mistoffelees” conjured up by David Cook
“Grizabella” is the once glamour cat that has lost her looks. She is a “Jellicle” cat and has come to the ball. She is ignored and rejected by the other cats and “Old Deuteronomy” decides it is “Grizabella” who should be reborn. Grace Goddard captivated the audience with her performance and haunting rendition of “Memory”.
This energized dance-spectacular raised the audience onto its feet in a deserving accolade to all involved with this production.