Cats

Date 16th February 2023
Society Centrestage Productions Youth Theatre
Venue The Point, Eastleigh
Type of Production Musical
Director Mike Mullen
Musical Director Ian Partridge and Rachel Thorpe
Choreographer Louise Hodson and Susie Maycock
Written By Tim Rice and Andrew lloyd Webber

Report

Author: Mark Allen

The usual and excellent warm welcome at the foyer; I was given my programme and ushered to my seat. From the moment I entered the auditorium I knew I was in for a good evening. The entire cast were fully resplendent in the most amazing costumes, wigs and make up and were prowling the theatre as cats do with purpose and with smooth savvy movements. One meowed loudly at me from behind, made me jump, nearly dropped my ice cream! CPYT are a youth theatre and tonight there were fifty eight members on the stage at any one time (you'd never know though!). From ages 8 to 20 it encompasses a wide range of skills and abilities associated with their ages.. 

The set was a fairly simple set and was an old back alley with bins and a rickety slide for the cats to climb over and play on. The sets dimly lit night time ambiance, (Livewire Theatrical Consultants) was very effective especially as it was used in conjunction with just the right amount of dry ice, it really set the scene. There was a real sense of anticipation in the audience. We were not to be disappointed.

The orchestra led brilliantly by Rachel Thorpe and Ian Partridge were all backstage with no real visual guide (headphones and monitors aside) bet set off at a great pace and produced a sound that was at just the right volume that didn't drown out the cast but equally gave them something to sing and dance against. A mention here to the sound guys Pob Wyeth and Mark Bourne, The point is often a difficult venue to get the sound right, tonight it was perfect.

There were two main elements to this astonishingly outstanding show

Firstly, the costumes were superb, really inventive and each one different in almost every way. Although some hired in, the record must show the extraordinary talents of Nicki Moorhouse and her team, to adapt each costume to be different with each other so there was no duplication, and for fifty eight of them, is a feat in itself . The make up was of an exceptional high standard, and speaking with the production team, they started at Half Twelve, some seven hours before curtain up. This astonishing attention to detail was time very well spent

Secondly, the choreography and direction. Cats is, a very dance heavy show with several large ensemble as well as solo dance sections and chorus numbers. The choreographers, Susie Maycock and Louise Hodson have produced such a high quality inventive and challenging set of routines, you would be forgiven in thinking that you were looking at professionals, make no bones about it, it was seriously high quality. From the youngest seven and eight year olds right up to the more senior members, everyone knew where they were supposed to be, what they were there for and executed all the rehearsed moves perfectly. I can only begin to imagine the time and effort this has taken by Susie and Louise. But not only the routines presented, all the cast, were at all times "cats" with the body, arm, leg and hand movements to match. They were in character for the entire show no one looked out of place, all were believable. Wonderful.

All the principles played their parts well, across the board, some very experienced and some in their first lead. All of them took their individual characterisation to a very high standard and to mention one would be a miss justice to the others. You were all brilliant. Chorus, despite the staggering amount of routines that had been learned and notwithstanding the physical efforts taken, were all clear with excellent diction. You could hear all the words and thereby able to follow the story and understand the individual characters roles within the piece.

When I spoke to Mike Mullen, The Director this time last year (Feb 2022) he talked on Cats, Their then MD and our very good friend Nigel Finch, was insistent, Mike, not so (as I recall). I saw a beaming Mike after the show. I gave him three words "Nigel was right!" Nigel was sadly taken from us last year. He would have been immensely proud of this astounding production. Bravo CPYT, this is a show that will remain in the memory for many years to come, thank you.