REVIEW: Cats, Sheffield Lyceum

Cats. Photo by Alessandro Pinna.
Cats. Photo by Alessandro Pinna.

Top-flight director Trevor Nunn’s revival of this favourite show is a reminder of what a strange story it is, even in the weird world of musicals.

The show is based on some of the feline characters in writer T S Eliot’s book of poetry, Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats.

The Jellicle cats gather at night in a junkyard (a briliant set by John Napier) and various cats tell their stories.

The cats appeared in the aisles several times and it was great to see their energy and also the beautiful make-up at close hand.

The high point of the evening was Marianne Benedict singing the show’s stand-out song, Memory, very movingly, pouring every ounce of heartbreak she could muster into the story of a lonely old cat looking back on glory days.

Other highlights included Gus the theatre cat (Greg Castiglioni), transforming brilliantly from a doddery old stager to a vibrant youngster.

Marcquelle Ward was a vibrant Rum Tum Tugger, a rapping, street-dancing cat.

On the whole this was a great production but it felt over-long at times and Gillian Lynne’s choreography looked old-fashioned.

In a nice touch, old Deuteronomy stayed on stage in the interval and youngsters were allowed up to meet him.

The show ends on Saturday.