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Review: Cats prowl onto the stage at Leeds Grand Theatre

Magical and mystical, Andrew Lloyd Webber's Jellicle Cats are back

Cats at Leeds Grand Theatre

Shocking though it may be to anyone who knows my love of musicals, I had never seen Cats before.

And now that I have, I can't stop humming it.

Cats is not your ordinary West End show. It has no real plot, jumps from song to song with reckless abandon, and by the end nothing much has changed. But it's a magical journey nonetheless.

I was mesmerised throughout: you could spend the whole show just dissecting the costumes and make up, let alone the music.

Like most of Lloyd Webber's classics, it's a good 35 years old, and yet the songs and score have barely aged. The Rum Tum Tugger decided to embrace hip hop in this latest production directed by Trevor Nunn, which did feel a bit forced, but the younger audience members got on board.

Cats is one of those shows where you imagine everyone has their favourite character: comic Old Gumbie Cat, wise Old Deuteronomy, sparking, magical Mr Mistoffelees or rambling Gus the Theatre Cat.

Cats at Leeds Grand Theatre

For me, Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer (played with superb chemistry by Joe Henry and Emily Langham) were a delight from start to finish — and Skimbleshanks: The Railway Cat was one of the night's most creative numbers.

But it's always the quiet ones — in this case, shy, frightened Grizabella, who skulked around the stage for two hours before taking the roof off with an unbelivably powerful crescendo of Memory .

It's a song most people will know, even if they've never seen Cats - but Marianne Benedict made everyone sit up and take note with a powerful, moving vocal.

Cats brings T S Eliot's surreal, adventurous poetry to life with clever songs, breathtaking choreography and a wonderfully inventive set.

You have to simply go with the flow — if you pause to question, or search for a storyline, you've already missed the magic of it all.

Accept your invitation to the Jellicle Ball, seize every moment of happiness and learn how to address cats properly. It's important.

Cats is at Leeds Grand Theatre until Saturday July 2.

Tickets cost £23-£49.50.

Book online at leedsgrandtheatre.com or call the Box Office on 0844 848 2700.

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