Vancouver has been invited to the Jellicle Ball where cats gather once a year, or in this case nightly until April 15th. One by one CATS are introduced in song with lyrics that stay true to the poetry of T.S. Eliot’s “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats”. In fact, the entire musical is T.S. Eliot’s writing (published and unpublished) set to music by Andrew Lloyd Webber. There is no spoken dialogue, just whimsical songs and a frenzy of feline movements from playful poses to big musical numbers with tap dancing.
At first I thought there was no real storyline, simply a sequence of meeting cats. However through the introductions — which take place for our benefit as spectators of the one-night only Jellicle Ball — a story appears. Mungojerrie (Daniel Switzer) and Rumpelteazer (Hillary Porter) set the scene with their tale of hi-jinx. Both Rum Rum Tugger (Chris Stevens), whose hips got the crowd swooning, and Magical Mister Mistoffelees (Chaz Wolcott) garnered applause and cheers during their introductory performances.
Grizabella (Melissa Grohowski), the tattered old glamour cat that appears not to have a friend in the world, proudly drifted into Memories. It’s a song many have heard before but never performed live, on stage, under the (simulated) moonlight.
The orchestra is small and the sounds, paired with the cat suits and leg warmers, remind you that this production first hit the stage in London, 1981. Regardless, the tales are timeless and the company’s singing – while dancing their paws off – is impressive.
Broadway Across Canada presents CATS, the longest continuously touring show in American theatre history, in Vancouver nightly at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre until April 15, 2012. The show is family-friendly and enjoyable for all ages.