Cats at the Regent Theatre 2016 — Did you know cats could Rap?

Another year, another Musical at the Regent Theatre in Melbourne, with a rap segment!

So did you know that cats know hip hop? No, neither did I and they don’t do it very well.

The Melbourne performance of Cats was well, lost in direction. Before seeing the play when I found out that a 31 year old B-grade pop star from New South Wells was playing Grizabella I could not fathom my mind around why would they cast her for that role, she is too young, doesn't have the range and is in the wrong performance medium. Once I watched the show I understood why they needed her. The production is in shambles. The experience was not unlike watching a Shakespeare play acted out by non-Shakespearian actors. They are saying the words but they don’t get it.

This is what I found with Cats. The stage actors were singing the songs but not really understanding the meaning behind the songs, especially in ACT One.

Some examples from memory, at the start there is a moment where one of the “cats” sees a person with a look of perplexity on his face from never seeing a Jellicle cat and point him out to start the opening song. On stage one of the cats just look’s out at the audience in a general direction. Then the second cat comes up acting like he is not seeing this person but humouring the first cat. What would have had more impact is if they actually singled an audience member and pointed to him/her during this sequence. This kind of non-direction is all over the first act.

Another example although this might be a limitation to safety for a stage production was another cat who was on a trapeze hardly lifted herself up while being pushed with no effort from a stage hand. I would expect a high level production such as a musical at the Regent theatre would at least have the performer do a flip in the air or something towards a circus act playing a cat and all.

This continued with “Jennyanydots” right though “Rumpus Cat” the classical dancing was well and executed correctly but the actors just didn't believe in their characters, they looked like they were wondering around the stage in a lost sense of purpose.

This was all saved though by the Second Act. It was day and night, there was life in the players and they knew what the story was they were telling and why they were there. GUS was performed suburb I believed this was a cat that lived a life and is now not in a bad way with old age. The pace of Act two was energising moving quickly right into “Skimbleshanks” and end with “Mr. Mistoffelees”

That’s the acting performance reviewed now what about the costumes. The updated costume was, well different. Especially with Rum Tum Tugger who looked less like a cat and more like a 20 something with bad 90’s wardrobe choices pea-cocking around with unwarranted self-importance. I understand that is his character. Yes but when the actor looks more human than cat in costume something went very wrong with wardrobe licence. Then there is the rap portion of the Rum Tum Tugger song. Why did they try to make it more contemporary with a rap segment? I was expecting for him to start doing the juicy wiggle with a dub step beat playing off. But alas they didn't go all the way with con-temporise show boating.

This was a choice made my Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber to add the rap and not a local production choice I found out, so ill remove two points there as it was out of Melbourne/Australia production control and they should not be faulted for it.

So there you have it a play about cats not performed by cats so it looks more like a school production of Romeo and Juliet.

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