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Cats the Musical

Published by: Kirstie Niland on 31st Jul 2015 | View all blogs by Kirstie Niland

Blackpool Opera House

 Until Sunday 6th September

The cat definitely got my tongue after seeing this sensational performance of Andrew Llloyd Webber’s record-breaking show at Blackpool Opera House. The artists playing T S Eliot’s cats are so in tune with each other, moving so lithely and fluidly as one, I was left speechless.



The intricate choreography keeps the Jellicle Cats on their toes throughout, as they spring seamlessly from one number to the next in perfect harmony. Yet despite their unity, the character of each cat gradually emerges, bringing to mind the words in The Naming of a Cat from Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, from which the performance has been adapted:


When you notice a cat in profound meditation,

The reason, I tell you, is always the same:

His mind is engaged in a rapt contemplation

Of the thought, of the thought, of the thought of his name.


Every single one of the performers blends beautifully into the ensemble but also brings something unique, so that one minute you are mesmerised at the cast’s movement as a whole, and the next smiling at the individual personalities their names convey. The sheer energy and flexibility is astonishing, and theatre-goers are treated to some exciting close-ups as the cast creep stealthily along the aisles, interacting with the audience to their surprise and amusement.


Spectacular costumes and make-up, a dramatic set, and outstanding sound and light effects are accompanied by a fantastic live orchestra. Together they create such a powerful effect you are immediately immersed into the back street alleys where the cats go about their daily business - and you feel the anticipation build as they wait to see which of them Old Deuteronomy will take to the Heaviside Layer for a new lease of life.


Some of my favourite moments came from: Skimbleshanks, with a jovial Evan James giving the Railway Cat a Welsh lilt as the cast skilfully conjures up a giant pop-up train; a rapping Rum Tum Tugger introduced by Jack Butterworth; a dastardly double act by Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer (Harry Francis and Georgie Leatherland); and a dazzling Magical Mr Mistoffelees in a black, sparkly catsuit complete with flashing lights.


However, the peak for me was an absolutely superb and unforgettable performance of Memory by Jane McDonald.





Prior to this show I have been more familiar with Jane McDonald on Loose Women and Elaine Paige’s version of the song. So I was not expecting to be so utterly mesmerised by Jane’s rendition of Memory in the show’s heartbreaking climax. Her voice is powerful but beautifully gentle, and she injected such pathos into the lyrics it gave me goosebumps. Meanwhile her sensitive portrayal of the beautiful but aged outcast Grizabella has a fragile dignity that makes her acceptance back into the tribe and gift of a new Jellicle life well-deserved.


A new day for Cats the Musical has begun with the casting of Jane McDonald, and once again Blackpool Opera House is the cat that got the cream of the summer season. 


On until Sunday 6th September. Tickets, priced from £20 are available from


Photographs: Alessandro Pinna



  • Cameron Lowe
    by Cameron Lowe 2 years ago
    Thanks, Kirstie. This musical has more lives than. ... Well ... A cat!
  • Kirstie Niland
    by Kirstie Niland 2 years ago
    Haha yes it does! You're welcome, this one was a real treat!
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