BWW Reviews: CATS, Bristol Hippodrome, October 16 2013
It's been ten years since I first (and last!) saw Cats, so I was thrilled to be returning to the over-sized rubbish dump this evening to enjoy an evening of feline fun and frolics at the Bristol Hippodrome.
Upon entering the auditorium, my excitement mounted as I spied the wonderful set, full of huge tyres, large scraps of metal and shredded sheets, which really draws the audience into the weird and wonderful world of our feline companions before the show has even started. Add in a burst of sparkling lights, a stream of classic Lloyd Webber tunes and an immensely energetic cast, and you've got a winner.
Cats is certainly a strange show - it doesn't follow the typical musical theatre format in terms of having a key plot - but it is quirky and charming in its difference. While there is a vague storyline which surfaces during the production, the main focus is on introducing a whole host of characters, each with their own unique qualities and personality.
The most well-known song from Cats is undoubtedly Memory, sung by downfallen and outcast glamour cat Grizabella, and so all eyes were on Sophia Ragavelas to deliver, and deliver she did. While Ragavelas is much younger than the traditional Grizabella, she certainly managed to capture the broken soul of a cat who has fallen from grace and is rejected by her conspecifics, and my goodness were her vocals impressive. Ragavelas has incredible power to her voice, and while her skill was apparent from the first act, I love that she held back a little to then truly pull out all the stops for some serious wow factor in the second act. Truly spine-tingling.
Every member of the cast was a joy to watch, each bringing something different to the stage, but particularly notable performances came from Oliver Savile, Jessica Buckby, Lily Frazer and Clare Rickard. Savile plays the rock-star-like, attention-seeking Rum Tum Tugger with great flair, while Clare Rickard gives true character to both Jellylorum and fluffy Griddlebone. As Demeter, Frazer was joined by Buckby understudying the role of Bombalurina, which she did magnificently. Buckby usually plays the role of mysterious Siamese cat Cassandra, and had utterly stunning physicality, with her movement being beautifully expressive and fluid - it was hard not to become entranced. Frazer and Buckby worked very well together, bringing life and presence to two of my favourite characters in the show.
The music of Cats is great fun, with catchy beats and amusing lyrics, and many of the numbers were accompanied by wonderfully energetic and often creative choreography. Alicia Beck as Victoria/White cat and Joseph Poulton as Quaxo/Mistoffelees were both beautiful, elegant dancers, and I thoroughly enjoyed watching the tumblers among the cast.
Cats is a great show for humans of all ages, so whether you're a Lloyd Webber lover or a fan of felines, then get yourself down to the Bristol Hippodrome before Saturday 26 October for some mammalian madness. But be warned - the cats can't always be contained...!