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CATS is a musical night of mystery from a hotchpotch of felines eager to please

By Abel Teo  /  23 Dec 2019 (Monday)

CATS, one of ALW’s longest-running musicals, is based on T S Elliot’s poetry collection of Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats. The ‘live’ musical is always the preferred medium to catch the performance. When the option is not available, that’s where the film step in. Fortunately for us, the former option is right in town.

The musical is an overarching night of mystery strung together by a montage of songs. A hotchpotch of cats meet under the cover of darkness for an annual gathering under the mysterious Jellicle night, with the opening number “Jellicle Songs for Jellicle Cats”, where the cats are in turn introduced to the audience “The Naming of the Cats" and some featured individually in subsequent various songs. Munkustrap, a tomcat, then announces that an old wise cat Old Deteronomy will choose a cat to be reborn into a new life on the Heavenside Layer.

We are then treated to a host of music in disparate styles but can be readily enjoyed as individual numbers. “The Rum Tum Tugger” is a rock-and-roll feature showcasing a showy tomcat, the ballad-like "Bustopher Jones: The Cat About Town” about a high-society overweight cat for example.  While the first half is somewhat prodding and slow with very little to show, the second half picks up with more musical numbers, and things begin to ease in with some of the famous songs that we know. One made especially popular is “Memory” by Barbra Streisand. Grizabella, a grey, disheveled cat rejected by the Jellicle cats, reminiscing in this song needs very little introduction. Other great numbers include the poignant “Gus: The Theatre Cat", the uplifting “Skimbleshanks: The Railway Cat”, the swinging “Macavity: The Mystery Cat”, and a very singable and watchable “Mr Mistoffelees”.

The production has very little surprises but make up for it by the great singing, acting and acrobatics from the cast of 29 made up from both the London Broadway and New York West End cast (or cats if you like). This production has toured China and Manila before arriving in Singapore, and their continued enthusiasm makes up for the mysterious energy emanating from the performance. While less showy than many other musicals, it is a breakthrough of its time paving the development of subsequent blockbuster musicals that we are so familiar with now.

All-in-all, it’s some night of great singing and if you are a cat lover, all the more not to miss a performance dedicated to your mysterious feline friend.

CATS the musical is showing daily except Mondays and Christmas till 5 Jan 2020 at Marina Bay Sands. Tickets from $50 are available on SISTIC and Marina Bay Sands ticketing.

Photo credits: CATS Tour 2019 Photography by Alessandro Pinna
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