Curious cats come to life at the HMT

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Every time I go to the theatre I leave thinking it’s something I should do more often. When I visit, and for a few days after, I’m left in awe at what I’ve witnessed - no matter what performance it is.

Every time I pass the doors of His Majesty’s Theatre in Aberdeen, I don’t really think about what’s all going on behind the closed doors. The singing, dancing and acting talent that’s being performed to an audience who have completely escaped the outside world. They’re sucked in to the art of performance and following along the narrative on the edge of their seats, with joy, concern and concentration on their faces throughout.

Tuesday night was one of those nights. One of the nights where I walked away thinking about what I had been missing on show at the theatre for the past few months after I went along to the opening night of Cats at HMT.

I’ve been to the theatre many times, but never to see Cats. I’m not a fan of the animal, so to me, anything involving the feline creature is not of interest, but I was a curious cat, after so many people telling me how enchanting and impressive the musical was.

And it was just that - at least! The impressive stage set of a moonlit scene reflecting on the built up domestic and industrial junk yard gave the performance an eerie feel from the very start. The feeling continued as the show started with a surprise for some as the Cats prowled up and down the aisles on their way to the stage - a point where the aisle seat was not only a bonus for the legroom, but for the close up views and enticing feeling gained from the performers’ slinky movements and captivating demeanor.

EXTRAVAGANT

The Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, based on TS Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, is well known for its outrageously extravagant costumes, fantastic expressive make up and unforgettable songs.

The musical tells the story of a tribe of cats called the Jellicles and the night they make what is known as “the Jellicle choice” where they meet to decide which cat will ascend to the Heaviside Layer and come back to a new life.

One of the unusual things about Cats (as well as the fact the whole thing is about dancing, singing cats) is that the whole musical is one interrupted dance sequence, and Lloyd Webber was “breaking new ground” with Cats compared to his usual “sung through” musicals such as Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and Evita. With this, the choreography throughout was fautless as they catsuit-clad actors sang, danced and flipped their way through the performance with their slender, cat-like movements.

Oliver Savile drew in the crowd with his strutting showboating rendition of the cat about town, Rum Tug Tugger, gaining one of the biggest cheers of the night at the end. And one of the musical’s best-knows songs, Memory, was performed in a ‘hair-standing-up-on-the-back-of-your-neck’ type fashion by Glamour Cat Grisabelle, performed by international star of Miss Saigon and Les Miserables, Joanna Ampil.

The whole performance was absolutely fantastic and totally faultless, even if you’re not a ‘cat’ person. The audience, both young and old, clapped and sang along at the end and all left looking, and likely feeling, re-energised by the whole experience.

Cats continues at His Majesty’s Theatre in Aberdeen until Saturday 16 March and tickets can be purchased from Aberdeen Box Office on 01224 641122.