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Despite an uninvolving story and some dated music, 'Cats' has thrilling dancing and costumes, a still-enthralling garbage-dump set and a few evergreen songs.

Theatre Review (Singapore): ‘Cats’ by Andrew Lloyd Webber

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats will be playing from January 9th to February 1st 2015, at the Marina Bay Sands Theatre in Singapore.


Cats tells the tale of a bunch of cats who embody a multitude of personalities and backstories, each cat’s story presented in turn.

One of the longest running Broadway and West End musicals, Cats doesn’t really have a narrative. Instead we get a peek into each cat’s attributes and characteristics, and how they play and live with each other. As a result, Cats‘ plotline doesn’t really have the ability to draw its audience in that much as it’s not easy relating to or empathizing with mere intrinsic qualities without a story.

Having said that, and despite most of the music and lyrics showing their age in terms of melody and meaning, songs such as “Memories” and “Macavity: The Mystery Cat” still have their grasp on the audience and show that well-written songs never grow old – or irrelevant.

Also, the dance choreography and use of props are superbly handled, as evidenced in the exciting tap dance number involving the cat ensemble, and the unexpected construction of a steam engine using scraps to effectively interpret the song “Skimbleshanks: The Railway Cat”.

To add to the delight of the production, the felines come often into the audience, and purr, nuzzle and prance with the humans, sometimes even eliciting screams from unsuspecting people.

Cats is a musical many regular theatregoers of a certain generation may remember as one of their first musical experiences. It certainly was one of my firsts that I saw as a child. Hence there is also a sense of nostalgia Cats might invoke, although the truth is that I don’t remember being this entertained the first time. Whether it’s due to maturity on my part or a reinvention on the production’s part, the musical just feels tighter and better paced now.

In conclusion, Cats has thrilling dancing and costumes and its garbage-dump set is still enthralling. It also has a few evergreen songs. So despite an uninvolving story and some dated music, you can’t help but hold onto this part of the lyrics of “Memory”: A time I knew what happiness was, (so) Let the memory live again.

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About Sharmila Melissa Yogalingam

Ex-professor, Ex-phd student, current freelance critic, writer and filmmaker.

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