A Standing Ovation for CATS on Opening Night!

A rapping Rum Tum Tugger. A ridiculously talented cast. Plenty of audience interaction. And a ‘Memory’ which blows the roof off the Regent Theatre. The aim of this new production is to make CATS relevant for a modern audience, a goal this revised show has definitely achieved earning rapturous applause and a standing ovation on opening night!

Cats Melbourne (10)

Ever wondered what your cat gets up to when you aren’t home? Are they little thieves like Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer? Do they make your possessions disappear like Mr. Mistoffelees? Are they old and retiring, relaxing after a long life full of achievement like Gus, the theatre cat? Or do they keep everything in the household running on time like Skimbleshanks? Whatever their nature, you will see similarities as this incredibly talented cast expertly embody our feline friends!

CATS is an ensemble piece. Unlike many other shows where there are a select number of leading performers and a supporting cast, CATS gives every member of the ensemble their time in the spotlight before they return to a supporting role. And for this show to really work, it needs a stellar ensemble – exactly like the talented cast that has been assembled for the Australian revival.

Memorable highlights are scattered throughout the show starting with the impressive full ensemble opening number with all performers moving in perfect synchronicity through challenging and testing choreography. The choreography continues to wow the audience through Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer’s number as they double cartwheel around the stage before Mr. Mistoffelees takes over in Act 2 with a mixture of dancing and acrobatics as he shows off his magical abilities.

A number of changes occurred in this production – although it could still use some further revision at the beginning to provide some clarity for first-time audiences. The biggest change in the show reaches the audience early in Act 1, the rapping Rum Tum Tugger song. Previously, this character was based on Mick Jagger with all the confidence of a rock ‘n’ roll star and has proven to be one of the well-loved songs in the show. But Andrew Lloyd Webber decided it was time for a change. The contemporary music audiences are no longer idolising rock heroes of the past, but rather the rappers of today so the Rum Tum Tugger’s number has this cat transformed into a rapper who could easily grace the stage alongside Jay-Z. It may not be what traditional CATS fans are looking to get out of the show, but it provides a great point of accessibility for any younger audiences – a challenging job which Daniel Assetta pulls off easily!

The two biggest highlights of the show come towards the end of the second act with Skimbleshanks and Grizabella. It is about time that Ross Hannaford leads one of Australia’s big budget shows and his performance as Skimbleshanks shows audiences why. Not only is he an impressive dancer and performer when taking to the stage by himself, but he shines leading the entire ensemble through this automotive number as they put together an enormous makeshift train onstage. This is one performer to keep an eye on Australia! Then Delta Goodrem takes to the stage . . .

There has been a lot of debate over star casting the role of Grizabella, a role usually reserved for an established theatre actress towards the end of her career, with a young contemporary music icon. Being a big fan of Delta Goodrem, I never had any problem with this star casting and with her final performance of ‘Memory’ she certainly proved why she should be playing this role as she hit the final chorus with such power and stage presence that the audience burst into spontaneous applause! When you see this, you will understand why Andrew Lloyd Webber wanted a contemporary music star to play the role.

A Jellicle Congratulations to everyone involved in this great production!

CATS is playing at the Regent Theatre for a strictly limited run until January 24th. If you are a fan of this show, love watching incredibly talented performers or just love Delta Goodrem, then grab your tickets quickly before they all get snatched up by Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer! Visit www.ticketmaster.com.au for more information.

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