Cats is the multi-award winning musical composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber, and based upon T.S Eliot’s ‘Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats'. It was first performed in 1981 in the West End and has been presented in over twenty-six countries, two hundred and fifty cities, translated into over ten languages and, in May this year, celebrated it’s 30th Anniversary Season. These facts alone could allow for many of the theatre community to call Cats the ‘purr-fect’ musical.
The show is set in an oversized junkyard overrun with, yep, you guessed it, lots and lots of cats. However, these are not ordinary cats, they are Jellicle Cats. These Cats have the unique opportunity to ‘Journey to the Heaviside Layer’ and be reborn anew. This meeting of Cats occurs only once a year, and this is the reason they meet in the junkyard tonight for the Jellicle Ball. And so begins the competition to see which of the Cats will be chosen by Old Deuteronomy, the eldest of the Jellicle Cats, in somewhat of a ‘Jellicle Cat’s Got Talent’ lineup.
While it is true that the Cats are indeed ‘auditioning’ for Old Deuteronomy, the show is such that the Cats are also aware of the audience watching, and are as much attempting to win our affection as well as that of their benevolent leader, which makes Cats a different style of show.
Anyone looking for an experience like The Phantom of the Opera might do well to consider this musical as Webber’s opus on the exploration his range, style and musical flair, rather than a sweeping epic story in the same vein as Les Miserables. Webber uses Cats to show his eclecticism within the context of the score, and the show has more in common with A Chorus Line than other contemporary works.
After a wonderful, heart-felt production of The Sound of Music earlier this year, PLOS Musical Productions once again takes to the stage of the Frankston Arts Centre to bring us their take on Webber’s iconic masterpiece. PLOS has a long standing history of presenting memorable productions, and have, year after year, proven themselves able to tackle even the biggest of Musicals, of most recent note Disney’s Beauty & the Beast (2007), The Boy From Oz (2009) and Monty Python’s Spamalot (2010). Certainly, staging a production of Cats is no small task, but one that the Production Team have graciously undertaken, with the intention of presenting a fabulous theatrical treat.
If you haven’t yet experienced Cats (if so, where have you been for the last 30 years!), or you just want to relive that lingering ‘Memory’ from a past production, I seriously suggest that you make the journey to Frankston to take a look. Directed by Fred Pezzimenti, with choreography from Karen Taylor-Pottinger and musical direction from Bev Woodford, I have no doubts that PLOS will make it worth your while.
Cats will open on Thursday July 14 at the Frankston Arts Centre, and run for eight performances, closing on Saturday 23 July. Bookings can be made through the PLOS website, the FAC website, or by calling (03) 9784 1060.
Photos by LANG PHOTOGRAPHICS