Friday, March 1

Cats – Theatr Clwyd

Tip Top productions have taken on the Andrew Lloyd Webber classic, Cats, at Theatr Clwyd and delivered a show that would give any West End tour version of this show a run for its money.

Tip Top Productions produce high-quality musicals, plays, children’s shows, and pantomimes and this musical is at the top end of high quality.

Cats was rehearsed over a three-month period, with Direction and Choreography by Rob Stevens and Musical Direction by Tim Jones, and the two together have created an absolute masterpiece. Choreography is key to Cats and the precision and energy in these routines left me in awe. From individual routines to full cast numbers, there was something for everyone and the cast gave everything to delivering the high standard of dance given to them.

A live 15-piece band helped bring the piece to life and they sounded phenomenal. Cats is a sung through musical, so music is so important, there is no room for error. My only slight issue was how loud the music seemed to the audience in the opening piece and the Jellicle Ball, both times where there was no singing. I do not know if this was because there was no singing to balance it, but it became a little painfully loud at parts. Overall, the sound was incredible. This performance included on off stage singing chorus and they sounded wonderful assisting the cast on stage to deliver stunning vocals with the most gorgeous harmonies.

Photo: Mark Carline

Tip Top made the decision to update the costuming for Cats, having them dressed in everyday clothing, giving them a more human feel but with the classic Cats makeup and hair. I personally enjoyed this update, but it did cause a little confusion in the audience who were unsure if they were supposed to be cats or humans.

This cast worked so hard throughout to deliver this top-notch musical and the individual characters showed in each person on the stage but there were one or two cast members that stood out for me giving that extra edge. Joel Merry as Rum Tum Tugger had the perfect amount of swagger, danger, and sex appeal for the role, throwing everything he had into the role from beginning to end. Victoria Lewis absolutely shone as Jennyanydots/Griddlebone, so natural in the role, leading a fantastic tap dance routine and delivering stunning vocals. A moment in Cats that everyone knows is the song, made famous by Elaine Page, Memory sung by Grizzabella the glamour Cat. Sophie Hygate played this part and wow did she do it justice. With the right nuances and emotions, Hygate sounded incredible throughout the whole piece, but absolutely stole the show when she delivered Memory, you could feel the emotion and vocals come from her feet right through her body and left audience cheering and clapping for the longest time. Huge congratulations.

The set for Cats was static with oversized props used to create the illusion that they are all cat sized, all made to perfection and used so well, especially in Shimbleshanks. Lighting by David Powell was excellent for the most, creating the right ambience for the junkyard in the night-time. My only issue with that was that occasionally, cast members were in complete darkness when they were singing, due to them using side lighting and other cast members standing in the way of the lighting pool but it did not affect the overall feel of the show.

Tip Top productions have created a beautiful show that had the audience on its feet at the end cheering in appreciation of the super talented show we all just witnessed.

Cats is running until Saturday 20th March 2022 at Theatr Clwyd, Mold.

Reviewer: Damian Riverol

Reviewed: 16th March 2022

North West End UK Rating: ★★★★