Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 22/6/2011 (2167 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Andrew Lloyd Webber's Cats is the second longest running musical in Broadway history which only goes to prove that there's no accounting for popular tastes.
Unlike most crazy-popular musicals, it has no real story. Webber did not hang the play on a conventional plot as he did with The Phantom of the Opera. (Phantom is Broadway's longest running musical -- score one for classic narrative.) Cats was adapted from T.S. Eliot's Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats -- a 1939 book of whimsical poetry.
So what we have here is a desultory collection of sketches which allow Webber to trip through a number of musical idioms as he did with Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, with a Vaudevillian number here, a rock-the-roof-off rouser there, and of course, musical theatre's ultimate power ballad, Memory, sung in this production with an abundance of wrenching emotion by Susan Gilmour as the tragic Grizabella the Glamour Cat.
Rainbow Stage's first ever crack at the production feels like a scaled-down touring production, with inorganic sets and costumes evidently rented from elsewhere.
Expertly directed and choreographed by Toronto-based Ray Hogg, the show relies that much more on the charisma and abilities of the cast to make it all hang together as well as it does.
Carson Nattrass, triple-threats with characteristic potency in three roles -- Gus the Theatre Cat, Bustopher Jones and Growltiger. In the latter guise, Nattrass hits the high notes, figuratively and literally, with Donna Fletcher's dizzy diva cat Griddlebone in a comic-opera-within-a-musical.
Rainbow fixture Brenda Gorlick is also a delight as Jennyanydots, demonstrating good old-fashioned hoofing expertise in a tap number early in Act I.
Jeremy Koz packs heat as the virile Rum Tum Tugger with the voice of a rock god. Sam Plett's rich baritone lends gravitas beyond his years in the key role of Old Deuteronomy, a role that might be described as the Pope of Cat Town.
But of course, Cats puts at least as much emphasis on dance as it does on singing, and in that, a couple of dancers end up on top of the kitty pile: Shelley Kenney's elegant, balletic white Victoria and Adam Sergison's mystical Mister Mistoffelees, a true dance dervish.
Director Hogg apparently prefers a sense of fun to Webber-esque bombast, and encourages his performers to be playful with the material and interact freely with the audience.
Hence: Be warned. Cats have no respect for personal space and neither does the cast.
To July 10 at Kildonan Park
3 stars out of five