Musical Review: Cats at the Hollywood Pantages

Garon CockrellTheatre, Theatre Review1 Comment


CATS at the Pantages has all-new lighting design by Natasha Katz (Aladdin), all-new sound design by Mick Potter, new choreography by Andy Blankenbuehler (Hamilton) based on the original choreography by Gillian Lynne (Phantom) and direction by Trevor Nunn (Les Misérables) make this production a new CATS for a new generation, it says. Is that me?

Cats is a show that I have known about forever. Even before I was a fan of musical theater I knew Cats. It’s been running since the dawn of time it seems, probably for sure since the dawn of my time anyway. It’s one I knew a few songs from but never knew much about, story-wise. It’s a show that I have heard people praise and one that I have heard people rant about. Finally, I was able to experience the spectacle for myself at the beautiful Pantages Theatre in Hollywood.

Here’s the thing about this show. It’s expertly performed. The set is gorgeous, the costumes are great, and the cast is absolutely phenomenal. The level of talent on display in this show is just amazing.

That said, I have no idea what the plot is or what even was happening. The songs by Andrew Lloyd Webber are definitely a product of their time and while the two songs I am most familiar with, “Memories” and “Magical Mr. Mistoffelees”, are wonderful a lot of the others just feel dated. Especially instrumentally. The synthesizers just don’t feel appropriate anymore. It makes it feel canned.

I was left confused. It definitely felt like I was watching two hours of introductions and then left to figure out the rest on my own. I thought there was a battle of who was going to lead the cats and didn’t realize until the end what was actually happening, which I don’t want to ruin for those like me who aren’t as well-versed with the show.

CATS – what does it mean?

I don’t blame this on this current production by any means. It’s clearly an issue with the source material and maybe a little with the sound at the theatre which more than a couple times seemed to be out entirely.

But all that confusion aside it was a sight to behold the cast at work. They are clearly all overjoyed to be a part of this and they were all superb. Tony d’Alelio as Mungojerrie and Keri René Fuller as Grizabella really stood out to me. I couldn’t keep my eyes off of Tony (someone give him my number). He was bouncing around and a ball of joy on stage. Keri was heartbreaking and she nailed Memories.

Overall, fans of Cats are going to love this show. I didn’t dislike it, I just wish I could more clearly gleam what was actually happening.

Cats is running until March 24.

What do you think? Fan of the show? See this production? Sound off in the comments!


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Garon CockrellMusical Review: Cats at the Hollywood Pantages