Practical cats, dramatical cats
Pragmatical cats, fanatical cats
Oratorical cats, Delphic Oracle cats
Skeptical cats, Dispeptical cats
Romantical cats, Pedantical cats
Critical cats, parasitical cats
Allegorical cats, metaphorical cats
Statistical cats and mystical cats
Political cats, hypocritical cats
Clerical cats, hysterical cats
Cynical cats, rabbinical cats
When the geekdaughter and I arrived at the Regent Theatre in Stoke on Trent to collect our press tickets for the touring production of Cats the musical, neither of us knew what to expect. I’ve seen a great many musicals, but somehow Cats never made it to the top of my list.
Both of us realised that we were in for something special just after parking our car when another mother and daughter walked past us. The daughter was wearing cat ears, and both of them had whiskers painted on their faces!
“I didn’t realise this was the kind of thing we should dress up for!” I joked to the geekdaughter.
We took our seats, and noticed another girl the geekdaughter’s age in the row behind us had brought some kind of stuffed cat which she was cuddling whilst she waited. It was becoming clear that Cats is a musical that people throw themselves into. Very soon we were throwing ourselves into it as well.
From the opening chords of the familiar music to the cat’s eyes lighting up in the scenery, through the numerous songs and dance routines, all the way to the final scenes, Cats the musical was a complete experience.
Cats is an unconventional musical. It’s a series of T. S. Eliot poems set to Andrew Lloyd Webber’s music. The poems tell the stories of different cats, and whilst there has been an attempt to create an overarching story in the musical, it still mostly feels like a series of individual stories. It’s almost more of a ballet than a musical, as the dance never stops, but the songs sometimes do. I was in awe of the fitness of all the cast members – singing whilst dancing must be exhausting, but they all made it look effortless.
The geekdaughter, with her love of musical theatre, ballet and gymnastics, was engrossed. Apart from the last 5-10 minutes of the first half of the show when she got a little fidgety, she loved every minute of it. I was quite glad we hadn’t taken the geekson though, as I don’t think he’d have had the patience to sit through some of the longer dance routines. But for an almost-9-year-old girl (and her mother!), I would thoroughly recommend Cats.
A couple of words of warning if you’re taking kids to see this show – there was one very loud bang, and several bright flashes of fire. Both of these caught the geekdaughter completely unprepared, so just in case you have a slightly jumpy child like I do, here’s what to look out for. At the end of Macavity, a cat grabs two things that look like jump leads. That’s your cue that a loud bang and sudden darkness is coming. Then in Mr Mistoffelees fairly soon after that cat arrives on stage there are a number of fire-like flashes. I counted three, but the geekdaughter insists there were more (but she did have her hands over her eyes by that point!).
Usually when I go to watch a musical I like to sit in the circle of the theatre, to get that lovely “top down” view. But as the Regent Theatre had provided us with press tickets we didn’t get to choose our seats, and we were sat in the stalls. I like the stalls at the Regent as they have a good rake to them, and the geekdaughter could see perfectly well even though there was quite a tall man in the seat in front of her. Having experienced the show from the stalls, I would recommend that as the best place to sit. The cast moved through the auditorium a lot during the show, and there was quite a lot of interaction between them and the audience members sat in the aisle seats. Also during the interval kids were invited on stage to meet Old Deuteronomy, and whilst I’m sure you could race down from the circle to do that, it was definitely easier from the stalls.
Cats the musical continues its run at the Regent Theatre in Stoke-on-Trent until Saturday, and then moves on to other parts of the UK. You can find the other venues on the Cats the musical site. If it’s coming to a town near you both the geekdaughter and I would thoroughly recommend it.
Disclosure: I was provided with two tickets for review purposes. All words and opinions are my own (well, apart from the opening quote which is by T. S. Eliot).