Launching its summer season run at Blackpool Opera House, Cats wowed last night’s audience.
The Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber musical has an utterly breathtaking set, dazzling costumes and a 1980s’ score that dares to never date, more than 30 years after its premiere.
Starring as faded glamourpuss Grizabella, Jane McDonald promised to bring age and experience to the role – and she more than lived up to that pledge.
While her vocal prowess would never have been in doubt, it was her physical portrayal of the once proud character which caught the heart as something of a surprise.
The use of anthem Memory as more than just her torch song was also touching, as fellow felines came to realise the errors of their shunning ways.
There’s a constant sense of surprise as the cast roams the auditorium, allowing a close up look at the fantastic Lycra.
While Gus the theatre cat may lament ‘the theatre is certainly not what is was’, that’s certainly not the case here.
For those who remember Cats’ 1989 run, it’s totally familiar with some cool updates for the 21st Century – of particular note is the rocker turned cool cat rapper Rum Tum Tugger. But he’s just one among a wonderful cast of characters, each of whom is brilliantly drawn.
It proved an emotional experience too. Cats, at the Opera House in 1989 was the first full West End scale musical I saw with my recently deceased grandmother.
The lasting impact of the show set me off on a lifetime’s passion – and in a way, into this very job as the Gazette’s entertainment writer.
So, to review Cats as my first summer season opening left me rather tearful. I can only hope children in last night’s audience are just as inspired by a magical piece of musical theatre.
n CATS, Opera House, Blackpool, until Saturday, September 5.
Call 0844 856 1111 or visit www.wintergardensblackpool.co.uk.