Friday, July 13, 2012


Greg Sollis (Skimbleshanks) Brittney Gould (Exotica) Kelda McManus (Sillabub)
Photo: Craig Burgess

Presented by Free Rain Theatre

ANU Arts Centre until 22nd July.

Reviewed by Bill Stephens

Cate Clelland’s decision to set this production backstage in a run-down theatre, instead of the usual garbage dump, is just one of many inspired touches which  help breathe fresh  life into this most curious of musicals. 

Based on T.S.Eliot poems about a meeting of a tribe of cats to choose which cat will ascend to the Heaviside Layer and come back to a new life, “Cats” is something of an acquired taste.  But this fine ensemble production, with its well-staged set pieces,  imaginative costumes and makeup, clever choreography and talented cast, captures Andrew Lloyd Webber’s surreal world so successfully, that it’s not difficult to understand why  so many people find this musical a magical experience.  .

The slight storyline is told through a series of songs and dances and Free Rain Theatre have assembled a superb cast of talented performers for whom choreographer Laura Pearce has devised spectacular and entertaining routines which echo the original Gillian Lynne choreography, showcase the strengths of her excellent dancers, and flatters her singers.

Vocally Impressive throughout, particularly during the chorus items for which Lisa Keen’s superb band produces exactly the right sound, with  excellent sound design which insures that the lyrics are clearly heard throughout, and a series of magical moments, add to the pleasures of a production which is a credit to all concerned and a compelling demonstration of the strength of talent presently on show in Canberra.
                                      (This review appears in "CITY NEWS"  12th July Edition)

 Members of the CATS cast
Photo: Craig Burgess