Cardboard city with fairy lights; street sounds and sirens. And then the feline invasion, cats of all varieties pouring in through every imaginable entrance for a stunning sequence of extracts from TS Eliot's only hit musical, now approaching its thirtieth birthday.
Big numbers and impressive solos, from amongst others Jess Moore as Grizabella in the iconic Memory, beautifully staged here, Bart Lambert as a rock-god Rum Tum Tugger, and Mark Ellis, precise and perky as Skimbleshanks the Railway Cat. Duos included Laura Messin and Sophie Walker sharing Macavity, Polly Grieve-Russell helping Alex Houlton's Gus regale the listening kittens with tales of his palmiest days, and a lively Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer from Andrew and Natalie Cooper - “a wonderful way of working together”.
But the greatest impact came from the production numbers: Jellicle Cats to start and finish, The Naming of Cats with its disciplined choral speaking [and these are tricky literary lyrics], and the carton train for the Sleeping Car Express.
Superb make-up and hair [West End expert Sally Tynan] – with special plaudits to Sam Toland's Munkustrap and some splendid ears and whiskers on kittens. Dance Captain was Liz Pilgrim, and the show was directed by Tomorrow's Talent Principal Gavin Wilkinson.
photographs by Louise Freeland