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www.theatreguide.com.au Supporting live theatre in South Australia PO Box 738 MODBURY SA 5092 [email protected] ABN : 93 297 960 525 CATS Lunchbox Theatrical Productions, David Atkins Enterprise and Base Entertainment Asia in association with The Really Useful Group Adelaide Festival Theatre Until 10 April 2016 Review by Kylie Pedler An explosion of music and flickering cat-eye lights, are followed by the unexpected, caressing nudge of a cat’s head on your lap. As the lights lift and the larger-than-life junkyard is revealed, you are welcomed to the Jellicle Cats’ special night—a night that will be remembered for a long time to come! Told through a series of tales, introducing various cats and their unique qualities, the narrative is loosely based around a Jellicle Cat Ball held once a year when celebrations are had, stories are shared and one cat is chosen to ascend to the Heaviside Layer. Based on the words of T.S. Eliot’s “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats”, and an unpublished poem “Grizabella the Glamour Cat” Andrew Lloyd Webber and Cameron Mackintosh made history in the early 80s with their ground-breaking production despite last minute cast changes and bomb threats on opening night. From its conception, this musical has had its ups and downs. While the 1989 Adelaide tour was considered brilliant and memorable by this reviewer as a 12 year old, the revival that followed some years later was disappointingly lacklustre. Thankfully, the shows original creative team, Director Trevor Nunn and Choreographer Gillian Lynne, are back and so is the show’s original glory. This current production is magnificent! Dance, vocals, costuming and lighting all work together to bring this production to life. In this production, each character is of equal importance—a true ensemble performance, nicely highlighted in the individual bows to close the show. There are however some standout performances as everyone makes the most of their moment to shine. Josh Piterman plays Gus the Theatre Cat with sensitivity, evoking compassion for his hands that shake with palsy and empathy for the life he has left behind. Admirably, his talents are showcased further as he instantly becomes the dashing Growltiger, vocally superb and polished in the Italian duet. Ross Hannaford shows nimble agility as Skimbleshanks the Railway Cat, bringing life and joy to the stage as he leaps across it with panache. A nice modern twist is Rum Tum Tugger as a tattooed, dreadlock rapper. While, Daniel Assetta dances a storm in this role, he shines when singing in other numbers. Well-deserved, spontaneous applause (on opening night), recognised the magical feats of Mr Mistoffelees performed by Christopher Favaloro. Breathtaking leaps, pirouettes and fouettes are all perfectly timed with pyro technics, enhancing the illusion of perfection. There are enchanting vocal moments such as the choir of angelic harmonies by the company in “Jellicle Songs for Jellicle Cats”, but also times when diction could be improved. Jason Wasley is exceptionally fine as well respected elder, Old Deuteronomy, as are Stephanie Silcock as Jemima and Amy Berrisford as the sultry Bombalurina. www.theatreguide.com.au Supporting live theatre in South Australia PO Box 738 MODBURY SA 5092 [email protected] ABN : 93 297 960 525 Vocally, show headline Delia Hannah is superb, building to the expected climatic line in the Act 2 "Memory” with a perfect powerful tone; however, on opening night her performance was disappointing overall, lacking the intense relational dislike of the other characters and the emotional desperation of a cat ready to leave this world. Despite the standout performances, what is truly applaudible is the way each cat slips back into the ensemble, working beautifully as a member of the team. A credit to the performers, Lynne and Nunn alike. From the tilt of the elbow to the position of the hand, the arch of the back to the inclined movement of a head, these cats are "purr"fection—extremely skilled performers mastering the highly technical, artistic dance choreography in beautiful sync. Purr-fect for cat lovers, dance-crazed generations and people who truly appreciate fine artistic theatre.