BWW Review: CATS at Ronacher
They are back!
It's been a while since Andrew Lloyd Webbers world-famous CATS revolutionized the business in Austria. Peter Weck convinced Lloyd Webber 36 years ago to open the first German production in Vienna. The show ran for 7 years, people from all over the world wanted to see the german speaking CATS. Everybody was talking about the show, Memory was top of the charts, CATS was everywhere.
The Vereinigte Bühnen already sold more than 140.000 tickets. The show is as magical as ever. Trevor Nunn together with Chrissie Cartwright are responsible to keep the magic alive. Their CATS version is a slightly different one. Some bits and pieces are added. Growltigers (Felix Martin) final battle and his opera duett with Griddlebone (Barbara Obermeier) is an unexpected highlight of the show. The synthesized sound design is powerful and magical at the same time. Carsten Paap conducted the largest orchestra ever heard in any CATS production. The score was revised for the Vereinigte Bühnen Wien Orchestra. Imagine 27 musicians playing the Jellicle songs, you might have never heard it better before. Dancing actors in catsuits are no longer a sensation. We are used to outstanding costume designs and transformations. Costumes and Make-Up are important but it needs talented actors to fulfill the transformation.
CATS is on many actor's bucket list but not everyone has got the stamina to do the show. It's not easy being a cat 8 times a week. The casting department has found the right bunch of people. Talented fresh faces and some familiar ones perform Gillian Lynne's marvelous choreography under the Jellicle Moon. Stephen Martin Allan ( Mr. Mistoffelees/ Quaxo) who started dancing at the age of 16, finished Canada's National Ballett School in 2018 is not only new to the show, he is giving his musical debut in this wonderful production. Like in every show, there is one number, everyone is waiting for. It's Grizabellas business to bring the house down with the 11 o'clock number "MEMORY", but this time it's surprisingly different. Ana Milva Gomes is giving a fine but low-key interpretation of the shows number one hit.
Stephen Martin Allan is shining brighter than anything else in the show, not only because of his sparkling costume. His solo dance number (Mr. Mistoffelees) is breathtaking, a showstopper. Forget Memory, get yourself ready for some of the finest dance performances you might have ever seen. Stephen Martin Allan is a diamond.
The Vereinigte Bühnen Wien scored a hit but that's by all means not really a surprise. A remarkably talented cast accompanied by the Vereinigte Bühnen Wien Orchestra. CATS like you may have never seen and heard it before. It's magical. Go and see CATS.
Pictures ©Diane Bauer