Review: CATS at National Theatre

On stage at the National Theatre until January 22, 2023.

By: Jan. 18, 2023
Review: CATS at National Theatre

Cats is a musical that isn't often taken seriously (for one reason or another), and in 2019, the film version unfortunately made 'fur fly' once again. Despite this, Cats ran on Broadway for 18 years, and it is right behind Phantom of the Opera as one of the longest-running musicals, and the movie is becoming a cult classic. Andrew Lloyd Webber composed the show's music based on T. S. Eliot's children's book, "Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats." Webber brought on Trevor Nunn and Richard Stilgoe for additional lyrical support, and thus, Cats was born. Cats is about a group of felines (a.k.a jellicle cats) who meet once a year for what they call "The Jellicle" Ball. At the end of the Ball, Old Deuteronomy (Cameron Schutza) picks a cat to ascend to the Heaviside Layer, and the chosen cat is then reborn.

The cats and their beloved junkyard have arrived at The National Theatre in Washington D.C.

Review: CATS at National Theatre
The company of the 2021-2022 national tour of CATS. Photo by Matthew Murphy, Murphymade.

What's to love about this production of Cats? Well, everything. The breathtaking choreography, by Andy Blankenbuehler, is a mix of ballet, jazz, tap, and acrodance, and it pays homage in style to the original choreographer, Gillian Lynne. There's a lot of talent in this national tour of Cats. Tayler Harris, who plays Grizabella the Glamour Cat, belts out a beautiful "Memory," and it will give you goosebumps. Hank Santos rocks out as Rum Tum Tugger in a Mick Jagger-like fashion during his song, "The Rum Tum Tugger." The Magical Mister Mistoffelees, is a bright, energetic number, which features Ibn Snell as Mistoffelees. Snell's smooth ballet movements. Other audience favorites include: the toe-tapping "The Old Gumbie Cat," the jazzy "Macavity, the Mystery Cat," and the hypotonic "Journey to the Heaviside" layer.

What's a Jellicle Ball without the junkyard? The scenic design by John Napier creates a sense of scale, and this makes the cast look small compared to the massive junkyard objects, like an old tire and oven. The costumes are the famous leotards of the original musical, but Napier updates them to look more modern. The makeup and hair, designed by Victoria Tinsman, compliments Napier's costumes, and showcases each cat's unique personality.

So, should you attend the Jellicle Ball? Absolutely. Cats is one of those musicals that will stay with you, whether you see it for the first time or twentieth time.

Running Time: About 2 hours and 30 minutes with a 20-minute intermission

Top photo credit & caption: Tayler Harris as Grizabella by Matthew Murphy, Murphymade

Cats is now on tour in the U.S. The musical runs from January 17 until January 23, 2023 at The National Theatre in Washington D.C. Tickets can be purchased here.


Review: INCENDIARY at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company Photo
Review: INCENDIARY at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company

Let me tell you a bit about myself. Even before the death of George Floyd and the political earthquake that followed, I have long been of the opinion that drastic and systemic changes are needed in the American judicial system. When I covered Gaithersburg city government for the Montgomery Sentinel, I took a knee during the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance at the beginning of the city council meetings. I do the same when the 'Star Spangled Banner' plays at Washington Nationals games. On the wall above my desk where I'm writing this, I have tacked up the front page of the Washington Post from April 21, 2021, announcing Derek Chauvin's conviction for murder the previous day. I oppose the death penalty. I admire works that effectively explore generational trauma and make use of innovative storytelling techniques, including blending genres. For all these reasons, when I read the description of 'Incendiary,' written by Dave Harris and directed by Monty Cole, which recently opened at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, I expected to like it. I didn't.

Theatre Lab Receives a $44K Creative Forces Community Engagement Grant Photo
Theatre Lab Receives a $44K Creative Forces Community Engagement Grant

The Theatre Lab School of the Dramatic Arts is one of 34 organizations nationwide selected to receive a Creative Forces® Community Engagement grant. A grant of $44,000 will support healing and community building through The Theatre Lab’s Life Stories program for individuals connected to the military. Creative Forces Community Engagement Grants are part of the National Endowment for the Arts’ Creative Forces® initiative and are in partnership with Mid-America Arts Alliance.

Interview: Theatre Life with Andrew Veyette Photo
Interview: Theatre Life with Andrew Veyette

Today’s subject Andrew Veyette is currently living his theatre life as the longest running dancer with New York City Ballet. The company begins a two-program week-long engagement at Kennedy Center this evening that continues through June 11th in the Opera House.

Review: THE HUMOURS OF BANDON at The Atlas Performing Arts Center Photo
Review: THE HUMOURS OF BANDON at The Atlas Performing Arts Center

What did our critic think of THE HUMOURS OF BANDON at The Atlas Performing Arts Center?

From This Author - Hannah Wing

Hannah Wing has an extensive background in editing and publishing. She has held positions ranging from literary magazine editor to web content manager. She has always had a soft spot for theatre and i... (read more about this author)


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