Review by: Paul Towers, 14 February 2016Cats The Play by Richard Hardwick and Jamie Beamish
Curve, Sunday 14th February 2016
“the greatest musical theatre star that never was”
Cat, The Play is Hardwick & Beamish’s irreverent homage to musical theatre and especially the behemoths that are Andrew Lloyd Webber (ALW) shows. Dave, our ‘hero’ is ‘the greatest musical theatre star that never was’ and this is his story.
When Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats, the musical, first burst forth onto the stage of the New London Theatre in 1981 a young Judy Dench was cast to play Grizabella. As history shows she snapped her Achilles tendon during rehearsals, Elaine Paige leapt into the breech at short notice and a star was born.
Dave had no such luck as he had a history of being written out just before opening night on a string of productions, coincidentally all written by the Lord (Lloyd Webber).
The stage is littered (Littered. Geddit? Cats, litter. Oh never mind!) with the detritus of a multitude of musical theatre roles. Into this junk yard skips Dave, still in his Cats costume, and the tale unfolds (do I have to explain every pun to you?).
Not only is the story itself hilarious but the interspersed songs are works of genius. Of especial note is the extraordinarily sacrilegious spoof of Jesus Christ Superstar which is perhaps the highlight of this tongue in cheek adulation of all things ALW.
The script is sprayed (!) with hundreds of in-jokes. For a Musical theatre geek, buff or just an appreciative audience member, this is the stuff of wet dreams. Not only are the musical numbers clever parodies of well known songs but the dialogue itself contains numerous familiar lines from West End shows. This show is, in the words of the great Eric Idle, ‘lovingly ripped off’ from the originals.
Losing a role in Cats doesn’t seem to have done Judy Dench any harm so there is hope for Dave yet, despite his vitriol. One day even he could end up as a shoplifting national treasure!
In the hands of Gerard McCarthy this failed entertainer dances, sings and even plays a bit of piano in a tour de force which left the audience in Curve’s Studio laughing and crying.
On the off chance that you can get a ticket for the evening show on Sunday 14th February, grab it with both hands. Otherwise get on Ryanair to Belfast Opera House for the 18th & 19th February
Full details of upcoming performances at http://www.davidhullpromotions.com/cat-the-play
First published on Western Gazette