Standing amongst an excitable crowd of musical fans outside the London Palladium, I stared up at the iconic yellow cat eyes and wondered ‘What is a Jellicle Cat?’. I wasn’t alone in my ponderings. People around me were also musing over what Cats the Musical is all about and what Jellicle actually means. Strange that after a 21 year run starting in 1981 and thousands of performances around the world, there are people like myself and many others who still haven’t seen this classic West End musical. All that was about to change though. We had tickets to the Jellicle Ball.
Settling down into my seat on the front row I marvelled at the spectacular set before me. Immersed into an over-sized cat playground of boxes, tins, bottles and other strange items, I thought to myself this stage is the perfect setting for any cat I know. The sheer thought of what must have been a pain-staking task to put it all together with its intricate details made my eyes water, but it was certainly worth it.
As the theatre grew dark, the cat eyes lit up across the stage and one by one the Jellicle Cats appeared. An array of spandex and furry tails surrounded the audience, each performer moving in a cat-like motion as they made their way onto the stage. This super-talented bunch wasted no time adopting their alter feline-ego wowing us from start to finish with flawlessly choreographed routines and pitch-perfect songs.
As a cat lover, I enjoyed getting to know the different personalities on stage and found myself relating the cats to pets of my own, and at times forgetting that they were in fact professional West End stars – not Jellicle Cats. The very essence of these feline creatures and their endearing (and not-so endearing) qualities were brought to life on stage before me in an all-singing, all-dancing musical I will never forget.
Making its come back this December for the first time since 2002, the Cats Musical revival of course came with a few updates to tempt the super-fans back for another viewing. So, what’s new for the 2014 Cats Musical? As this was my first experience of Cats, I used my sister’s memory to help me out here…
A feline favourite in the musical, Rum Tum Tugger – a curious cat who does what he does – has been transformed into a contemporary street cat complete with a hip hop remix. Antoine Murray-Straughtan raps his way through TS Eliot’s famous poem entertaining the audience with amazing dance moves and a lovable personality that had us giggling non-stop. Personally I loved this seemingly controversial update, but it did get me wondering what the original fans will make of it.
And how could we forget the most-anticipated change of all… Miss Nicole Scherzinger as Grizabella. Predominately a pop star, Nicole is responsible for many catchy tunes that over the years have got stuck in my head, but how would she fair up on the West End stage.
First things first… I don’t know how she does it, but Scherzinger looked stunning! Playing a once glamourous and now old, haggard cat, she still manages to pull off sexy. That’s not her party piece though. When the time came for Grizabella’s signature song ‘Memory’, Scherzinger amazed the whole audience. Hitting every note faultlessly all the while staying in character, Scherzinger had the audience hanging off every beautifully sung word. She received the longest and loudest applause of the night by far and I’d like to believe it wasn’t just because of her celebrity status.
With just a few updates Cats the Musical 2014 and its magical display of out of this world talent is truly amazing! From beginning to end, I felt a spectrum of emotions; wonderment and fascination over the mind-boggling talent of these performers, happiness and laughter from the characters and stories, empathy and sadness for Grizabella, fear and surprise from the cats sneaking up on us when we least expected it. I honestly loved it all and believe you will too.
Have you booked your theatre break to see Cats the Musical yet? What are you expecting from the revival cast? Let us know using the comments box below.