Cats (LAOS) – Review – Leeds Grand Theatre
By Laura Whiteley, April 2018
As a keen lover of cats, (the animals) yet having never seen Cats (the musical) I really didn’t know what to expect from this show. As I entered the auditorium, I was instantly absorbed by curiosity as I gazed upon the grand collage of a set. It was a bare but intriguing back-alley scene and I was instantly taken back to seeing Road (Jim Cartwright) many years before. Although an obvious contrast in theme and genre, the essence created on stage of a rusty, rough and rugged world was so similar that I couldn’t help but compare.
So, upon this set of poverty and deprivation; shone a beautiful light show and projection sequence that aptly prepared the audience for the wild and wonderfully weird performance that was to follow.
Captured by this intriguing introduction; I sat back to see the spectacle, that was of course the Cats themselves. Emerging from all sorts of hidden corners, these creatures burst into action. Make-up and costumes were inventive and extraordinary but beneath this beautiful artistry was the real delight of the show. Right from the start, the pure talent, passion and energy of these performers was undeniable.
“Emotion and passion”
Firstly, there was the singing. Everyone had a unique, powerful and well-trained voice that carried the story forward. Although, there were times I lost track of what was going on, it didn’t matter because there was not one voice that I found irritating or tiresome.
There was a mixture of styles amongst the voices too. Some sounded jazzy, some classically operatic, while others adopted a comedic tone. The variety made it even more interesting. Cast to perfection, each singer sang with a high level of emotion and passion that gripped the audiences’ attention throughout. Especially, of course, when the cast sang in beautiful unison and the powerful ensemble sound filled the space with magic and I was utterly overwhelmed by the pure beauty of it all.
Secondly, I was in shock at the level of skill, energy and abundance of dance throughout. How could such vibrant and talented singers dance as well? It was spectacular! A fun and colourful combination of contemporary and modern ballet mixed with acrobatics along with a sneaky bit of tap just for added effect.
From cheeky comedic duos to acrobatic solos along with plenty of whole cast numbers in between. Amazing. All of course done in the style of a cat, never forgetting the paw-like features and traits they must project. Just magnificent. I was in utter awe of these performers.
So, I left the show feeling completely mesmerised by it all. Leeds Amateur Operatic Society put on a performance that will stay with me. There was nothing “amateur” about it. It was professionally performed and well-received by many; giving it a standing ovation on its first night. What more could you possibly want from a musical? It really was breathtaking.