A Purr-fect production of CATS

It’s a musical one either hates or loves. I was prepared to be the former when I went along last Wednesday night to the opening of the Millennium Forum’s Youth Theater’s production of CATS. I had absolutely no desire to fall in love with this show. I had read and delivered a number of workshops just a few weeks ago on T.S. Eliot’s ‘Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats’poetry. It was fun but it didn’t encourage me to fall in love with cats, the animal or no grave desire to see the show. However, as a blogger and freelance writer I do enjoy a challenge of watching something I’m not interested in. And last Wednesday was one such show.

Alas, from that curtain went up at 7.30pm I was hooked. My companions on the night were not so, although they couldn’t fail the production at all. It’s just that lack of plot. But I loved every minute on opening night. I’ve had a buzz about it ever since. So much so that I just had to return last night on closing night. Never before have I gone to see the same show twice during the same run. But this was a need. It was a must. And again, it totally blew me away.
Cats has no plot. It has no story. And yet there’s so much of a story there. Individuality and comradeship intertwined throughout. These young folk embarked on this production just over three weeks ago. To deliver such a high calibre show on the professional stage that is The Millennium Forum has been simply spectacular.
Siobhan McPartland showcased her incredible voice in her role as narrator and such power was also heard in the voice of Old Deuteronomy, Robert Kelly. Exquisite talent for these young folk. I’m particularly keen on the old Rum Tum Tugger and was hugely impressed with Thorin Coffey’s portrayal of him.
It’s impossible to single out any one cast member from this show as they all played their roles superbly. However, Eireann Hickey, playing Grisabella the Glaomour Cat, had the hairs on my arm standing tall as she sang Memory. Not an easy one for the most professional of singers, yet she did it brilliantly.
This show had some outstanding choreography. It had dance (of many forms) and it has acrobatics. It had song and it had music. It had outstanding costume and make-up and it had a fabulous stage setting. It had tails and it had the most amazing cast of young people. As I was telling a friend following Wednesday night’s performance I exclaimed, ‘This could be from the West End. It’s that good.’ I still stand by that.
Vanessa Chapman has done an amazing job with this production and Siobhan Molloy must surely be exceptionally proud of her role in making it all happen. Fantastic work by Millennium Forum and sheer brilliance from the youth involved. Two viewings, one week, I loved this production.

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