(seen at the afternoon performance on 13th December 2014). Some actors have
now left the cast.
possible to revive an iconic hit show, in a new and fresh way - take time to
study the museum in the "Jellicle Ballroom" (clever!) off the box office foyer,
before the show.
This is the proof that we can move on from the sterling work already done.
Sure, the vast London Palladium, with an "end on" stage isn't the intimate "in
the round" New London; but then this isn't the 1980s and times have changed. If
you want to know how much, in 2014 it's OK (and hilariously witty) to hint at a
little "girl-cat on girl-cat" action... nicely done, Zizi Strallen and Charlene
And that really is the phenomenal strength of this revival. The original
creative team have been set free to re-examine every aspect of the show, the
structure of the evening, every dance step, every word of text and every note of
music. Add over 30 years of development in performance technique and the
training the kittens get... the result is unmissable theatrical dynamite.
The show seems to be "stopped" by talent at every turn. Hannah Kenna Thomas'
White Cat ballet moments after an ensemble "Naming of Cats," Paul F Momaghan
stealing it twice as both Bustopher Jones and dazzling Asparagus / Growl Tiger,
Benjamin Yates and Dawn Williams jaw-dropping cartwheels as Mungojerrie and
Rumpleteazer, Ross Finnie's kindly camp Skimbleshanks, Joseph Poulton's magical
Mr Mistoffelees all take rightly earned moments to bask in the warmth of
Linking the evening, Clare Rickard as a kindly Jellylorum and ever-benign Old
Deuteronomy (Nicholas Pound) also deserve mention.
All the much loved sequences of old are there. The boot makes its appearance.
The train, the breathtaking 20 minute Jellicle Ball. Restored and improved, the
youngsters move effortlessly, the heaving chests when they finally rest the only
giveaway just how hard this show remains. Even good Old Deut stays on his tyre
for eager kids to queue to see during the interval.
Small re-writes mostly work too. "The Aweful Battle of the Pekes and The
Pollicles" finally works, rather than being the incongruous bore of the original
(left off the cast recording, rightly so). "Growltiger's Last Stand" is exciting
and involving, with simplicity of set and a few well designed projections (John
Napier). In fact, the whole set manages to draw the entire audience in, despite
the size of the London Palladium - marking this masterpiece 70th set for the
show, no wonder the car number plate deservedly reads "Nap 70."
There is only one failure in the entire evening. Comic relief "The Rum Tum
Tugger" is given an inexplicable, and inexcusable "rap" treatment. The original
loveable tune is shredded, the character hardened then expected to fill the old
role later in the show (incongruously). Monkey is willing to pay for the
Nembutal to put this "out of its misery" now... and wickedly might suggest a
"group discount" involving those who thought the idea was a good one in the
And finally, of course, there is Ms Nicole Scherzinger. The lady can sing. As
in, "bring the house down, solo, centre stage at the Palladium with arguably the
greatest show tune of modern times" sing. She can also dance, as in command the
attention of the entire Palladium with a few movements. She can also act, as in
destroy emotionally every member of the audience in the Palladium when finally
her time comes for redemption. The build up, the tiny moment between herself and
Mr Pound, and the act itself - beautifully and effectively staged (assuming dry
ice isn't carcinogenic for those of us in the front to, well, back stalls!).
Oddly, even greater kudos to her for having her name on the bill, yet taking a
minor curtain call at the end. Theatrical gold, and hopefully a career the lady
will develop. The monkey would love to see her on a West End stage again any
If you've never seen the show before, this will explain its phenomenal
appeal. If you have, you must be sure to "let the Memory live again," for this
show will indeed remain in your memory, "now and forever."