REVIEW: Claw-some Cats musical opens in Singapore

Teng Yong Ping
·Lifestyle Editor
Rum Tum Tugger in the London/West End Cats musical 2019 tour production by Cameron Mackintosh and Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Really Useful Theatre Group. (PHOTO: CATS Tour 2019/Alessandro Pinna)
Rum Tum Tugger in Cats. (PHOTO: CATS Tour 2019/Alessandro Pinna)

SINGAPORE — The Cats musical has come to Singapore a few times already, and it’s back on our shores yet again – the musical opened at Sands Theatre at Marina Bay Sands on Tuesday (17 Dec) and will run until 5 January 2020.

It so happens that the new Cats movie opens the following week – but critics have panned the film, so if you’re looking to get your Cats fix, the musical is probably the better bet.

Having charmed audiences for almost 40 years since its 1981 premiere in London, the musical from the legendary Andrew Lloyd Webber is based on T.S. Eliot’s whimsical poems in Old Possum’s Book Of Practical Cats. It is set on the night of the annual Jellicle Ball, during which the feline members of the Jellicle tribe gather for their leader, Old Deuteronomy, to choose which cat will go up to the Heaviside Layer and be reborn into a new Jellicle life.

If you haven’t watched Cats before, you need to know that it’s not the typical musical. There is hardly any plot, story and spoken dialogue. As many writers have said before, Cats is a song and dance spectacular. It’s a very dance-based musical, spanning dance genres such as ballet and tap dance, and if you can appreciate that, you’ll enjoy the show very much.

The junkyard set of the London/West End Cats musical 2019 tour production by Cameron Mackintosh and Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Really Useful Theatre Group. (PHOTO: CATS Tour 2019/Alessandro Pinna)
The junkyard set where the Jellicle Ball is held. (PHOTO: CATS Tour 2019/Alessandro Pinna)

That means most of the cast of Cats are dancers as well as singers – but the singers in this production were all very good. Special mention goes to West End star Joanna Ampil, who reprises her role as Grizabella and delivers an impassioned performance of the classic song Memory.

Watch out for Mr Mistoffelees’ solo choreographed piece where he performs a staggering 22 “conjuring turns” by spinning on one leg!

The props and production value are superb. The stage set for the junkyard home of the cats is wonderfully designed. The cat characters are able to emerge from nooks that are cleverly hidden within the junkyard. In one scene, the cats somehow assemble an entire train locomotive for the song of Skimbleshanks, the Railway Cat.

At various points in the musical, the characters will come down from the stage and go among the audience while performing, so you might just get really close up to the cats!

Cats is showing at Sands Theatre at Marina Bay Sands from 17 Dec 2019 to 5 Jan 2020.

Tickets (S$50-S$880, excluding booking fee) can be purchased from Marina Bay Sands or Sistic.

Tue - Fri: 8pm
Sat: 2pm & 8pm
Sun: 1pm & 6pm

Scroll down for more pictures of the Cats:

Rumpleteazer (left) and Mungojerrie in the London/West End Cats musical 2019 tour production by Cameron Mackintosh and Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Really Useful Theatre Group. (PHOTO: CATS Tour 2019/Alessandro Pinna)
Rumpleteazer (left) and Mungojerrie. (PHOTO: CATS Tour 2019/Alessandro Pinna)
Grizabella in the London/West End Cats musical 2019 tour production by Cameron Mackintosh and Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Really Useful Theatre Group. (PHOTO: CATS Tour 2019/Alessandro Pinna)
The (ex-)Glamour Cat Grizabella. (PHOTO: CATS Tour 2019/Alessandro Pinna)
Macavity in the London/West End Cats musical 2019 tour production by Cameron Mackintosh and Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Really Useful Theatre Group. (PHOTO: CATS Tour 2019/Alessandro Pinna)
Macavity. (PHOTO: CATS Tour 2019/Alessandro Pinna)
The cats of the London/West End Cats musical 2019 tour production by Cameron Mackintosh and Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Really Useful Theatre Group. (PHOTO: CATS Tour 2019/Alessandro Pinna)
The Jellicle Cats. (PHOTO: CATS Tour 2019/Alessandro Pinna)