Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats is a musical which can either make or break a company. It’s famous songs and difficult dance content is a challenge for the most experienced adults, so when a group of 6-18 year olds took on this task it was always going to be tricky. Fortunately, the students of Bath Theatre School are an extremely talented bunch who had clearly been well rehearsed to do Catsjustice.
Cats is based on T.S Eliot’s Old Possums Book of Practical Cats which Lloyd Webber famously turned into the 1981 hit musical. Following the lives of cats as they tell of their stories from the junkyard, the wise Old Deuteronomy looks on and chooses the Cat who will be reborn into a new Jellicle life.
Two casts performed alternate nights and on the opening night the audience enjoyed watching Georgia Meddick playing the aged ‘glamour cat’ Grizabella who performed Memory with outstanding vocals. To add the comedy to the show, the Rum Tum Tugger played by Sebastian Pellow-Briggs was fun and lively, as well as the cheeky Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer played by Bella Shorten and Ruby Millard who energetically demonstrated their acrobatic talent whilst wonderfully singing and dancing their way through a very challenging and comedic routine. This show had many stand out numbers, more than there is time to mention and around every corner was another intricate and flawless dance routine or powerful and rousing vocal number. The life-sized train created from junkyard items in front of the audience’s eyes, complete with puffing smoke was a real spectacle, as indeed were Mr Mistoffelees’s magic tricks.
A mention must go to the fantastic costumes and makeup. Each child looked expertly unique with no fancy dress cats in sight which is seen all too often. This must have taken hours to create for each performance and gave the show its wonderful look, accompanied by the beautiful atmospheric lighting and bespoke set design.
You would struggle to find a more professional production of Cats by adults, but when being performed by children it makes the production all the more incredible. The show deserved its packed audience and rapturous applause – this Theatre School is certainly setting the standard for ‘amateur’ youth and adult theatre.