Cats the musical Review:
***** 5 Stars
“ The Memory truly did live again!”
Andrew Lloyd Webber’s break out success of the early 1980’s was Cats, staged at the New London Theatre (now the Gillan Lynne named after the chorographer of Cats and so many others) this isn’t a musical, it’s a song cycle based on the poems of T.S Elliot, there is very little in the way of leaner story line, instead it’s a patchwork of individual stories told as the cats seek to make the journey from the jellicle ball to the Heaviside layer and be reborn to bigger and better things.
The amateur rights have only very recently after nearly 40 years become available and have some severe restrictions, companies are not allowed to stage the show in a rubbish dump, or costume it in anyway that mimics the original, its therefore a stealthy challenge to undertake and one of which Limelight truly excels!
Director and Choreographer Kenny Christie working closely with associate Director/Choreographer Elinor Burns have set the show in the roof tops of the Alhambra albeit a London Alhambra and thanks to the set design of Christie, Bobby Mitchell, Bob Mitchell and Mark Lister it breath fresh life to the show and adds an additional sparkle that makes it shine.
Performances from the cast are uniformly excellent as they work hard in both physical dance elements and vocal numbers to create 40 unique Cats that pervade the stage throughout the show. Special mention must go to Haig Cruickshank as “Munkstrap” whose rich voice and strength of personality is a real bonus to the role, and it radiates across the footlights. The same is true for John Ramsay as “Skimbleshanks” the railway cat, a song which is full of joy and lightness and one of which Ramsay delivers in style. The Central role of “Grizabella” the stray tabby, shunned by the other cats and longs to live the memory in the moonlight is played by the simply divine Fiona Mackenzie who takes on the legend of Elaine Page and delivers a “Griz” that’s truly all her own. Her performance of Memory ultimately stops the show with its power and intention, truly musical theatre at its best.
This production features the original take on “Rum Tum Tugger” not the reimagined “Rap Cat” of more modern professional productions, performed here by Fraser Jamieson his first song has such poor diction and clarity it was impossible to understand any of the lyrics. However, he did recover to deliver a paunchy support in “Magical Mister Mistoffelees”
Another sparkling highlight is “Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer” played by Fraser McLoughlin and Jenni Bangs this is a powerhouse duo blending strong vocals and impressive physical skills in a joy de Vere performance.
Christie’s and Burn’s choreography is spot on, never replicating the original but drawing rich inspiration and allowing a delicate sense of feline humanity to pervade the roof tops of this show, its charming, heart warming and often emotional to watch and makes this production of Cats worth everyone of its five stars.
The cherry on the cake of this show has to be Fiona Mitchell’s and Judith Davidsons outstanding costume design, yes, the spandex is back but this is a wardrobe look for a new generation of cats and they should be commended for there excellence. Combined with Jonnie Clough midnight laden lighting design and Paul Gudgin’s 12 strong orchestra Limelight have well and truly delivered a slice of west end musical theatre to the Alhambra Stage.
Long may Limelight continue to push the boundaries of theatre in the fife region and beyond and they have announced the will follow cats with perhaps Lloyd Webbers greatest work, Sunset Boulevard. Going by this spectacular were the memory truly did live again, audiences are in for a sure-fire treat!
Limelight Productions present Cats the Musical, The Alhambra Theatre Dunfermline, Run Ended