Review Roundup: CATS Revival Opens in the West End
Nicole Scherzinger makes her West End stage debut as 'Grizabella' in Andrew Lloyd Webber's record-breaking musical Cats, returning to the West End for a strictly limited run at the London Palladium, beginning tonight, December 11, 2014.
Based on T. S. Eliot's Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats, the original creative team - Director Trevor Nunn, Associate Director and Choreographer Gillian Lynne, Designer John Napier and Composer Andrew Lloyd Webber - are reunited to bring Cats back to the West End this Christmas.
On just one special night of the year, all Jellicle Cats meet at the Jellicle Ball where Old Deuteronomy, their wise and benevolent leader, makes the Jellicle choice and announces which of them will go up to The Heaviside Layer and be reborn into a whole new Jellicle life.
Let's see what the critics had to say...
Dominic Cavendish, The Telegraph: As Grizabella -- the lonely, fading "Glamour Cat" -- the American star needs to show us a lot of meow factor...She keeps us guessing: her first attempt, in her ragged, tassled grey dress, stiletto-heeled, thigh-high boots and long black gloves, proves a croaky conversational meander. Without a blemish on her face, she struggles to convince as a has-been (she's only 36). In the second half reprise though, she finds something deep inside and truly makes your hairs stand on end...just when you're inclined to dismiss the show as a vapid parade for prancing thesps...something gets under your skin...Has the show dated since 1981? Aside from some tinny electronic sounds, not really. Is that because it's timeless? I don't think so. Cats is actually a classy species of panto -- fluffy, shiny, just about perfect for this time of year.
Quentin Letts, The Daily Mail: Look what the cat dragged in! It's Nicole Scherzinger with pussycat ears on the stage of the London Palladium...How is she? Almost purr-fect! Okay, it is not the biggest part. Unlike her fellow felines she does not have to leap, dance, do the splits or claw the air while arching her bottom, neck and inner thighs. Sir Trevor Nunn's fine cast is not so much balletic as gymnastic...Yet Grizabella, one of life's Norma Desmonds, has the show's greatest song, Memory -- twice...Miss Scherzinger did a tidy enough job with it near the end of the first half. The second rendition near the finale was even better...Miss Scherzinger nailed it, her low voice almost gasping with emotion, harmonising briefly with another singer before seizing back her solo and clinching it with lusty, self-discovering power...The combination of Lloyd Webber airs and T.S. Eliot verses is an enduring artistic achievement.
Ruth Gledhill, LondonTheatre1: Nicole Scherzinger, brilliantly cast as Grizabella, is hauntingly feline in lacy silver-grey. This is her West End debut and she is truly catlike as she picks her way carefully through old age in search of her memories. It would not do justice to her technique to say she "belted" her epic number, Memory, in the second half. It was not opera, nor pop. It was pure musical theatre in its evocation, passion and soaring vocal ability...This rejuvenated Cats is more edgy and has beautiful flow, more suited to the modern age, the leading Cats more evenly balanced...And as for the dancing, well it was simply stunning...If Scherzinger was the top note singer, Poulton's Magical Mr Mistoffelees was for me, the stunning dance highlight of the show. Beautifully costumed in black studded with sparkling crystals, you could hear the entire audience hold its breath as he performed his intricate, classically-styled solo to utter perfection.
Photo by Alessandro Pinna.