This is a musical which has evaded me for me the longest time (well who I am kidding, cats are supposed to be mischievous, aren’t they?) ‘Cats’ first imposed itself onto my five-year-old mind through a TV advertisement. Subsequently, as with a lot of people I suppose, ‘Cats’ was officially enlisted on my list of must-watch musicals upon my acquaintance with ‘Memory’, the haunting song which propelled ‘Cats’ into a global sensation.

‘Cats’, another classic by maestro Andrew Lloyd Weber, is based on the poetry collection ‘Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats’ by T.S. Eliot. The story revolves around a cat tribe, known as the Jellicles, who gathers on the fateful night of the year for the “Jellicle Ball”, when the “Jellicle choice” is determined, upon which a cat would be chosen to ascend to the Heaviside Layer and return to a new life.

Just a simple synopsis like the one written above got me scratching my head. An intriguing story nevertheless, a little bit of reading up would serve you well before stepping into the theatre. ‘Cats’ is a sung-through musical, i.e. there is no spoken dialogue and one would be hard-pressed trying to figure out the story amidst the overwhelming music and dazzling lightwork. 

Halfway through the spectacle, I switched off all logical thinking and settled with the acceptance that the musical, really, is just about cats. Watching ‘Cats’ is also probably an experience to solely allow theatrical magic to run its course. I briefly mentioned about the music and lightwork above, but it was the costumes that really captured my attention throughout the show. Whilst I was marvelling at the imagination that went into the costume design, I can’t help but giggle at how scared and mystified I could be by the costumes if I saw them as a little boy.

Any discussion about ‘Cats’ is incomplete without mentioning a few words on its greatest hit, ‘Memory’. Listening to what was an already violent crescendo, my heart was in turbulence until it was completely ripped apart by an absolutely deafening climax in the final rendition of the chorus. Heart-wrenching as the lyrics are, this piece is one of the handful of songs in the musical which was not penned by T.S. Eliot. On the other hand, I did find it underwhelming that Grizabella (the Glamour Cat), despite being the singer and sole inspiration of ‘Memory’, effectively only appeared in two scenes. Nevertheless, if there was only one meaning which you could extract from this musical, it would be the universal yearning for happiness by humankind (or should I say, cats), which is mesmerizingly expressed through this song. 

Controversial it may be, ‘Cats’ is one of the longest running shows both on London’s West End (21 years and 8,949 performances) and the New York Broadway (18 years and 7,485 performances). This time, they are only making a brief stop at Singapore until 5 January 2020 before prancing to their next destination. Don’t miss out on this classic and grab your tickets now!