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“Radical approach and outstanding delivery”

Nick Winston’s production dispels at a single magnificent stroke those habitual audience demurrals that, however showy and extraordinary it is, Cats doesn’t really have a story.

He plants it in a near-derelict London Underground station during the Second World War, with a toppled train and the faded figure of Britannia trampled underfoot. Cats emerge from myriad ducts and pipes. Exquisitely feline in their movement and make-up, they represent a colourful cross-section of British society – from milkman, engine driver and Boy Scout to glamour girl and schoolchild.

This community makes a cohesive whole, suggesting but never labouring notions of survival and pulling together. Nick Winston’s choreography is breathtaking in its invention, precision and variety. The movement is seamlessly matched to every musical phrase and constantly refigured on this vast stage.

Sasha Woodward in Cats at Kilworth House
Sasha Woodward in Cats at Kilworth House

With every cat given their moment in the limelight, it’s almost invidious to pick out individual performances, but highlights include the flying leaps and high drama of the Macavity Fight; Robbie McMillan’s exuberant Mr Mistoffelees; the shimmying number Macavity the Mystery Cat, and Adrian Grove’s ageing impresario, Gus the Theatre Cat.

Jeremy Secomb exudes wisdom as Old Deuteronomy. Emma Hatton gives a deeply moving performance as Grizabella. A raddled figure moving with halting uncertainty and visible defensiveness, her rendition of Memory doesn’t just still the stage but, in this atmospheric outdoor location, hangs in the night air. All credit too to Francis Goodhand’s musical direction. Familiar though the music is, it feels as though we’re hearing it for the very first time.

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat review at Kilworth House Theatre, Leicestershire – ‘mighty and explosive’

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Production Details
Production nameCats
VenueKilworth House Theatre
StartsJuly 23, 2019
EndsSeptember 8, 2019
Running time2hrs 10 mins
AuthorTrevor Nunn, Richard Stilgoe, Ts Eliot
ComposerAndrew Lloyd Webber
DirectorNick Winston
Musical directorFrancis Goodhand
ChoreographerAlastair Postlethwaite, Nick Winston
Set designerPhilip Witcomb
Lighting designerJason Taylor
Sound designerChris Whybrow
Casting directorAnne Vosser
CastAdrian Grove, Emma Hatton, Helen Anker, Jeremy Secomb, Matthew Malthouse, Robbie Mcmillan, Sophie Camble
TechnicalAdam Watkiss, Sophie Camble
Production managerMark Halliday, Tim Peacock
Company stage managerLindah Balfour
Stage managerJessica Cooper, Marc Hopkins
ProducerCelia Mackay for Kilworth House Theatre
VerdictKilworth House Theatre excels again – Nick Winston’s approach is radical and its delivery outstanding
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