Tuesday, April 21, 2015



Chelmsford Young Generation at the Cramphorn Theatre


No vast arena, no revolve, but, my ears and whiskers, don't Young Gen make up for it with striking designs, perfectly judged performances and a stunning sense of style.
Sallie Warrington's sure-footed production opens with cats' eyes piercing the gloom; the set is a back alley, stars and moon above, soon peopled by a magnificent clowder of cats, every movement, every gesture the embodiment of androgynous felinity.
So much complex choreography, and each moment a visual as well as a musical treat – the company watching Demeter, the first entrance of Grizabella, an ageing Marilyn moppet, the kittens tumbling on through the outlet, the garbage bagpipes and the cardboard box helmets for the Awful Battle.
The naming of cats. Every one has a deep and inscrutable name. For this blog review, I'm giving every actor a credit at the end. It's very much a company show, the ensemble full of characters and charm, with all thirty felines making a uniquely valuable contribution to the magic.
Every member of the audience will take away different memories, their own highlights.
Bustopher Jones, maybe, stoutest of cats with his spats and his fish-bone cravat. The magical Mr Mistoffeles, sequins and spangles, disappearing in a puff of smoke. Rum Tum Tugger, cavorting rock star in a leather flying jacket, the sprightly, high-spirited Skimbleshanks, star of possibly the finest production number of the night, Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer in their lovely song-and-dance duet, the frail Asparagus in his cardie, nicely contrasted with his caring companion Jellylorum. Jennyanydots in her patchwork coat. The enigmatic Quaxo, inviting everyone to the ball. Storyteller Munkustrap, with just the right voice for Eliot, Jemima, superb songstress, Demeter and Bombalurina on the trail of the missing Macavity.
And two points of stillness amidst the cavorting: Old Deuteronomy, gravitas in a long shaggy coat, and the glorious Grizabella, poignant stage presence and a magical way with Memory, the first notes sung before she turns towards her audience.
The cat costumes, and the wonderful wigs, a huge part of the show's success, were all made in-house for CYGAMS.
Musically there is excellent choral singing, as well as the many superb solos; Musical Director, doing wonders in the tiny pit with a couple of keyboards, bass and a drum kit, is the legendary Bryan Cass.

Asparagus   Alex Bloom
Bombalurina   Eve French
Bustopher Jones   Edward Bonney
Demeter   Katie Salter  / Natasha Newton
Grizabella   Alice Masters
Jellylorum   Abby Murphy
Jemima   Charlotte Broad
Jennyanydots   Maria Caulfield
Mr Mistoffelees   Charlie Toland
Mungojerrie   Harry Gardner
Munkustrap   Samuel Wolstenholme
Old Deuteronomy   Ben Wilton
Quaxo    Wylie Queenan
Rumpleteazer   Jessica Higgins
Rum Tum Tugger   Jack Toland
Skimbleshanks   Paul French
Victoria   Claire Mason

Admetus   Millie Parsons
Cassandra   Monique Crisell
Electra   Libby Escott
Etcetera   Ellie Steel
Exotica   Olivia Herbert
Sillabub   Molly Gardner
Tantomile   Holly Escott

Alexa   Olivia Khattar
Anastasia   Isabel Sidebottom
Athena   Isabel Murphy
Perdita   Virginia Hampson
Plato   Matt Hedges
Tumblebrutus    Noah Miller

production photograph by Barrie White-Miller

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