REVIEW: Millennium Youth production of ‘Cats’ is just purr-fect

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What have you achieved in the last three weeks?

Went to work, came home, ate dinner, watched Love Island? Maybe.

Or have you spent the last three weeks, rehearsing an entire, full-scale production of Cats with a view to performing it in a professional theatre to a live audience?

That’s exactly what a bunch of stunningly talented young people have achieved as part of the Millennium Forum’s youth summer scheme.

Last night (Wednesday, July 25) saw the curtain rise on one of the best versions of Cats I’ve seen.

Cats is a sung-through musical composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber, based on Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats by T.S. Eliot. Heavy on dance content and light on plot, it can be a Marmite musical for many people - you love it or loathe.

However, anyone watching this youth production cannot fail to have been impressed with the standard of acting, singing, dancing and acrobatic movement.

Stand out moments included the top notch Jennyanydots played by Zoe Kyte whose incredible tap dancing skills were matched by a fabulous voice and crystal clear diction.

The role of chief executive/narrator was played beautifully by Siobhan McPartland whose assured and mature performance belied her youth.

Another incredibly mature and powerful voice was that of Robert Kelly in the role of Old Deuteronomy while Conor Polley’s fabulous singing voice marvellously portrayed the role of Gus, the old theatre cat, in a moving scene with Hannah Deane as Jellylorum.

Cats is a relentless musical for its cast with no traditional stops or pauses for a scene of dialogue, it is fully sung from start to finish, alternating between scenes of balletic movement with an opening section of amazing acrobatics by Lia Della Friel as Victoria and bright and lively numbers like that from Skimbleshanks the Railway Cat played by Jamie Clements and the indefatigable Rum Tum Tum Tugger played by Thorin Coffey.

Even those not familiar with the musical Cats will know the iconic song Memory and, given its many and varied renditions, the actor playing Grisabella the Glamour Cat who has fallen on hard times, always has a huge musical reputation to live up to - and Eireann Hickey in this part did not let her audience down with her beautiful rendition.

Although it was a top drawer ‘dance show’ with some jaw-dropping choreography, this version of Cats was incredibly strong musically too and the final chorus number was very moving.

Cats continues at the Millennium Forum until Saturday (July 28) so book your ticket now and, as you enjoy this marvellous show, just keep reminding yourself that the young cast created it in just three weeks...