CATS

Date 12th October 2019
Society Dunstable Musical Theatre Company
Venue The Grove Theatre, Dunstable
Type of Production Musical
Director Lucy O'Hare & Ashley Mead
Musical Director Joanna Smale
Choreographer Lucy O'Hare & Ashley Mead

Report

Author: Nova Horley

Once again DMTC pulled out all the stops, with a tried and tested team of Lucy O’Hare and Ashley Mead, who can always be relied upon to make sure their productions are top flight. 

This iconic musical is based on Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats by T.S.Eliot, with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, and charts the lives of the Jellicle Cats.

The set was well thought-out and constructed, with many different levels that accommodated a lot of movement from the cast, with excellent lighting, and mostly good sound.  The production team called upon a wealth of technical expertise to help enhance this show, which it did.

There were some amazing props, which I understand were made by Manda Isiekwe, which definitely enhanced and dressed the set.

MD Joanna Smale had her work cut out, as this was a difficult sing, but she had obviously worked long and hard with the ensemble and main principals who all shone.  The band accompanied well too.  The addition of the Cats Chorus of experienced singers helped to swell the sound on stage, as the on stage cast needed the additional sound when they were dancing and singing, it combined to make the show musically excellent.

I must give a shout out to Gaye O’Hare, who made all the cat costumes, and succeeded in making every ‘cat’ a person in their own right, and to the makeup team and cast, as without the amazingly cat-like makeup they wouldn’t have made such an impact. However, it did make it difficult to ascertain who was who, even with the benefit of the programme!

Russell Stratton took on the roles of Bustopher Jones, a small but comedic part, then the weighty role of Old Deuteronomy, showing off his lovely rich voice, which was a contrast to the lighter younger voices.  A different dimension and one which added much to the production.

Helen Harris took the role of Grizabella, and gave her the right amount of pathos and longing, Memory being the number that everyone knows from the show, which Helen performed with great understanding.

I loved Alex Wheeler as Munkustrap, virtually the MC for the Cats, who showed a depth of performance we don’t usually see from Alex, as he majors on comedy, and this was a serious role that showed off his acting and singing skills well.  A whole new side to Alex, which I loved.

Terry Hooper played a very characterful Skimbleshanks the Railway Cat, I thought he excelled, playing it in a whimsical way, that showed off his dancing and singing skills.

I loved Justin Jeffreys’ portrayal of Rum Tum Tugger, very contemporary and full on, with plenty of interaction with the audience, excellent work.

Ashley Mead’s McCavity allowed him to showcase his dancing skills, and Helen Rudderham as Mister Mistofelles also danced well, backed by the Anna Gale School of Dancing, who appeared twice in the show, and gave an added dimension.  The other time they appeared was in a tap dance number with Susan Young as Jennyanydots – great fun, and I enjoyed Susan’s portrayal.

Sarah and Clare Gower showed of their acrobatic and dance skills as Mungojerrie and Rumpelteazer – great parts for them, which they accomplished with great theatricality and skill.

Roxy Parkins, Tara Patterson and Katharine Knight played Demeter, Bombalurina and Jellylorum respectively, and were called upon to sing in harmony which they accomplished well, and I enjoyed Katharine’s interaction with Gus the theatre cat, played with great skill by Chris Young.

There were some amazing youngsters in the cast, who I have watched progress over the years, and who took undertook a major part in the show.  The lovely Connie Jenkins-Greig as Jemima, and Gracie Weldon as the white cat Victoria, who showed off excellent dancing skills, and a command of a circus hoop.

Ella Couldridge, Emily Hanley, Chloe Allen, Thao Nguyen, Zoe Foster, Jo Herd, Jayda Moyse, Fiona Whiteside and Julie Foster completed the line-up of cats, with great singing and understanding of cat-like movement. 

This was a standout production, where everyone pulled their weight, and in some cases punched far above their weight.  My congratulations to everyone involved, who had obviously worked extremely hard to achieve the level of song and dance required, to make this a brilliant show, and one that I loved.