I headed along to the opening night of CATS at The Regent Theatre, Stoke-on-Trent on Monday evening and had mixed feelings of anticipation and curiosity. I had seen Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s world-famous production once before many years ago in France and had some sense of what it was all about but still couldn’t fathom an eloquent description of what the story entails other than “it’s about cats.” Suffice to say I was looking forward to seeing it and adding this classic production to my musical theatre repertoire.
To me it felt that the first twenty minutes are quite intense as you’re thrust into the all-singing all-dancing world of the Jellicle Cats; based on T. S. Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats. It is the night of the Jellicle ball and on this special occasion each cat takes their moment on stage to tell their tale.
As with every production I’ve seen that’s made its way to The Regent Theatre the set was most definitely the enamouring factor for me. Firstly, the lights were sublime and I couldn’t help but notice I wasn’t the only member of the audience remarking and marvelling at the lights which wrapped around the stage and stretched out toward the auditorium. The stage set up was a convincing scrapyard
It would seem that my confusion of the performance wasn’t lost on me the second time around as I will admit to finding the story difficult to follow, or not so much as follow – as it’s presented in bursts of stories from different characters, all of which are entertaining – but to understand who is who and to really ‘know’ these characters and their stories. Perhaps this was all made perfectly clear and it went over my head?
Regardless, grasping an understanding of each and every character isn’t imperative in the enjoyment of the performance. I appreciated the wide variety of singing, dance and movement performed on stage (and in the stalls).
CATS is now playing at The Regent Theatre, Stoke on Trent until Saturday 10th September. For tickets, visit www.atgtickets.com or call the Box Office on 0844 871 7649.