CATS the musical – still full of surprises even after 34 years

If there were ever a piece of art which paid homage to the skittishness, nimbleness, humour, arrogance and self-ascribed importance of felines, CATS the musical is it.

CATS the musical is back in Singapore for a third time, and it still is delightful to watch after all these years. Even before I first caught this at the Esplanade back in 2009, I, as a cat lover, already knew all the songs from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s CATS by heart. I would try to picture how the characters would come to life on stage, but this song and dance extravaganza is a stretch even for my imagination.

Have you ever seen a tribe of Jellicle cats capering in front of a Jellicle moon, at the Jellicle Ball?
Have you ever seen a tribe of Jellicle cats capering in front of a Jellicle moon, at the Jellicle Ball?

Based on the book of poems “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats” (1939) by T.S. Eliot, CATS tells the imaginative tale of a tribe of Jellicle Cats as they gather together for the annual Jellicle Ball, and one by one tell their stories for the amusement of Old Deuteronomy, who must choose one of the Cats to journey to the Heaviside Layer to be reborn into a new life.

That's Old Deuteronomy, the leader of the Jellicle cats
That’s Old Deuteronomy, the leader of the Jellicle cats

What is a Jellicle Cat, you say? Then you HAVE to watch CATS the musical to find out what shenanigans they can get up to.

Jemima and Bombalurina?
Jemima and Bombalurina?
The Night Mail can't depart without Skimbleshanks the Railway Cat
The Night Mail can’t depart without Skimbleshanks the Railway Cat
Small-time troublemakers Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer
Small-time troublemakers Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer
Jennyanydots tap-dances with cockroaches when the family's asleep
Jennyanydots tap-dances with cockroaches when the family’s asleep
Bustopher Jones in his coat of
Bustopher Jones in his coat of “fastidious black”
Grizabella of song
Grizabella of song “Memory” fame

The whole theatre would be decorated in lights and just before curtains, performers dressed up as cats would prowl along the aisles (as real cats do!) and prance and preen. This is the best thing I like about CATS the musical – it’s highly interactive. My favourite character, the Rum Tum Tugger (played by Earl Gregory), even leaps off the stage during his solo to undo the ponytail of an unsuspecting female sitting in the front row. (She ties it back, only to have Rum Tum jump off the stage again to undo it and ruffle her entire head, much to the glee of the audience.)

Rum Tum Tugger the rock star
Rum Tum Tugger the rock star

Ms Jo-Anne Robinson, the director and choreographer, was also the brains behind the 2009 production, when I was reviewing the show for the bilingual free-sheet My Paper. I was curious to see if she had any new tricks to pull out of her bag and was pleasantly surprised indeed – that, or I’ve forgotten a lot of it. Choose aisle seats so that you can get closer to the prowling performers, who may even cosy up for a tummy rub or a cuddle. Watch out for the “original conjuring cat” Mr Mistoffelees (played by Christopher Favaloro), a black cat who doesn’t have any lines but boy can he dance!

The greatest magicians have something to learn from Mr Mistoffelees's conjuring turn
The greatest magicians have something to learn from Mr Mistoffelees’s conjuring turn

One shouldn’t watch this alone – otherwise one would end up like me, singing along to the songs alone like a nitwit in the audience.

“And we all say
‘Oh, well I never, was there ever
A cat so clever as magical
Mr. Mistoffelees’ ”

And I say, was there ever a musical as magical as CATS!

About CATS:

“Seen by over 70 million people world-wide, CATS first opened in London in May 1981 to rave reviews and went on to win a record-breaking number of awards internationally including two Olivier Awards for ‘Musical of the Year’ and ‘Outstanding Achievement of the Year in Musicals’, and seven Tony Awards. It holds the record for one of the longest-running musicals in West End history playing for 21 years. In addition CATS played 18 years on Broadway and has been presented in over twenty-six countries, in about three hundred cities, in fourteen languages.”

Boasting a cast and crew of 53 including a live band, this internationally acclaimed production of CATS reconnects us with our favourite feline characters – Rum Tum Tugger, Mr. Mistoffelees, Jennyanydots, Old Deuteronomy, Grizabella and Skimbleshanks.

CATS is produced in Singapore by Lunchbox Theatrical Productions and Base Entertainment Asia in association with The Really Useful Group. Buy tickets here.

CATS International Tour
Season: 9 January to 1 February 2015
Venue: MasterCard Theatres, Marina Bay Sands
Cast: Features an international cast

PERFORMANCE TIMES:
Tuesday – Friday 8:00pm; Saturday: 2:00pm and 8:00pm; Sunday: 1:00pm and 6.00pm

TICKET PRICE:
From $65* through to $195
* Excludes the booking fee of SGD$3 per ticket

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