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Demeta's Milton Keynes 'CATS' Trip Report

Date and Time: Saturday 27th September 2003, 2.30pm
Place: Milton Keynes Theatre, Milton Keynes.

Another long train journey ensues. The things I do for this obsession, lol. Anyway, dragged my Mum along to the performance, my friend who was meant to be coming pulled out last minute, which sucked, but oh well.

Got into the theatre in time, had fairly good seats, six rows from the stage near the end, so got to see a couple of the cats close up. Waited expectantly to hear if any of the swings were on. There were so many changes! Yeesh they should have just replaced the entire cast with a completely new one! As it was I heard a couple and forgot the rest, but thanks to a VERY kind steward I got the names written down of who played who in that performance. *deep breath*

Everyone was the same except for:
Bombalurina - Summer Strallen,
Bustopher/Gus - Nick Charters,
Cassandra - Karen Williams,
Coricopat - Tommi Sliiden,
(yes, the very same)
Demeter - Amy Ellen Richardson,
Grizabella - Sally Whitehead,
Macavity - Ben Tribe,
Mungojerrie - Adrian Edmeades,
Rumpleteazer - Madeleine Harland,
Skimbleshanks - Joe Ryan
And also, no Tantomile. Poor Tommi had to go it alone. :(
The steward said something along the lines of two of those being covers.:/ For a updated castlist too, visit my UK Tour Information page.

But as for the performance..here goes:

ACT I

Jellicle Songs For Jellicle Cats
One cat, I think it was Rumpleteazer, came into the row in front of ours and flashed her eyelights at the little girl there. Otherwise it was pretty much the same as always, though for the most part of it the singing was switched around so different cats sang different solo lines, if that makes any sense. Had Coricopat lifting Cassandra up and Bill Bailey upside down on the trapeze, too.

The Naming Of Cats
As always, it's not till this point of the show that I realise the size of the cast. Yeesh it's getting smaller, lol. I counted around 20 performers in the actual cast, but on stage it looks less, and still a compact group. Highlight of this part was Bill Bailey (Justin Webb) mucking about in the front row, lol. Also when the Cats came off stage we had Cassandra at the end of our row staring at us. :)

Invitation To The Jellicle Ball
The music to and after Victoria's solo dance was very slow, slower than I remember it from March when I last saw it. Somehow when the group collated they managed to make it look as if there were more of them than there actually were. Munkustrap, however, didnt stand with the group, he spent his time on top of the car bonnet. ;)

The Old Gumbie Cat
This seemed to go fast at first, slowed, and then sped up again as regards music. Made me smile at one point because when Munkustrap was singing he touched Demeter's knee and she just had this expression on her face and kept touching her knee when his back was turned. But then she had to snap out of it to go and dance. :)
I just loved Sarah Bayliss as Jenny. She brought a good touch of warmth to the role. Great choreography as always, and once again Munkustrap stayed up the back of the action and Misto joined in with the tap dancing with the others. [unlike the video] Also have to say it looks so much better onstage without obvious edits. ;)

The Rum Tum Tugger
After that cry of Tugger he did appearth. :) Through the old shirt used as a curtain, though he disappeared from that area and reappeared up the very back a minute later. Have to say I'm slowly warming to Stuart Ramsey very slowly. I think part of the reason why this song lacks 'oomph' is because a)he's not allowed to fool around, and b)because of the speed/tempo of the music.
For the most part, he kept up the typical Tugger attitude, smacking a kiss on Misto's mouth (!) when he called him "a terrible bore", became visibly interested in Bombalurina coming after him, paid far too much attention than is healthy to Jemima, and came off the stage into the third row and sat next to a little boy and stared at him before putting his arm around him and ruffling his hair. :/
Oh and due to the lack of Tantomile, we had a different lineup for the girls surrounding Tugger. Had Rumple doing the screaming, with Jemima, Victoria, and Cassandra.

Grizabella, The Glamour Cat
I've never seen Grizabella crawl onto the stage O.o A decent portrayal in the singing and body language, for one thing, although they switched around a bit with the cats approaching Grizabella only to run away again. Demeter (Amy Ellen) - pretty good with the rest of the song, along with Bomba (Summer Strallen) it was a good duet.

Bustopher Jones
I dont normally like this song but somehow Nick Charters made it watchable! Loved him as Bustopher. He seemed gentler with the kittens, allowing Bill and Carby to play a lot with his spats as he was walking. Although the two of them seemed to think this was their song - they mucked about doing floor acrobatics and licking their lips feverishly at every food item Butopher mentioned when he was singing, to be scolded by Skimbleshanks, lol. Gave the flower to Jenny, who ran off squealing like a kitten, lmao.

Mungojerrie & Rumpleteazer
Demeter came over quite scared at this point on the first cry of 'Macavity'. She seemed quite paranoid and Munkustrap actually had to shoo her all the way to the edge of the stage before she'd run off.
Anyway, the resident thieves came out finally, the other Jellicles took a while clearing the stage. Again, good to see this song without the blatant edits. Adrian made a great Mungojerrie (though on the Tour I've yet to see it played by anyone else!) and Maddy Harland was a good Rumpleteazer although her acrobatics weren't that strong and that sort of let her down a little.
That was pretty much it 'cos nothing else really happened in that performance. Other than the two of them attempting to climb up the back right rigging when they were discovered and tried making their great escape. ;)

Old Deuteronomy
It seemed strange having Misto and Coricopat alone. I'm used to hearing a female voice (ie Tantomile) singing along with them. Munkustrap stayed up and everyone else rolled around on the floor with legs all over the place, lol. Saw Tugger eyeing up Rumpleteazer behind Mungojerrie's back...!
Yeah, everything else was pretty much the same through Old Deuteronomy seemed (dare I say it?) a little smaller and wrinkled than I would imagine him. I mean, it was still Nicholas Pound playing him but the old guy must have lost a heck of a lot of weight or something!

The Aweful Battle Of The Pekes & Pollicles
LOL. It happened again. At the start of this song just after Munkustrap's first solo line, Tugger darted down to copy Munkus' movements across the stage. Munkustrap looked round, and Tugger went all innocent and sauntered off whistling and twirling his tail, hehe.
Was watching the oven. Skimble opened it and Demeter came out, with a bag of stuff for the Pekes to wear. Bombalurina was trying to help her with it and Demeter kept picking things up and dropping them because she was shaking so badly. O.o I dunno if Demeter's meant to be that nervous. She seemed to stay very close, almost as if needing protection.
As for the actual song - First Peke was Rumple, and First Pollicle was Carby. Did the normal whole bark thing and the song, complete with Tugger and the bagpipes appearing and getting in the way. Rumpus Cat made a very late entrance. What they actually did was sing "Why who should stalk out but the great Rumpus Cat..." and when he didnt appear Munkustrap looked all round then Rumpus jumped out, so they all just continued the note, "...aaaaaaat...". LOL.
Gotta love Matthew Cole under the guise of Rumpus. He made the feline seem more vain than he should be, fussing with his hair, even when Munkustrap was getting annoyed with him. :) He generated a few laughs though.

The Jellicle Ball
Lessee, where to begin. Just, wow. For a start, it was definitely a extended dance. Started with Alonzo, Jemima and Victoria dancing together, then progressed much the same as the video production is shown, except Mistoffelees stayed with Pouncival a lot more, so Bill was at times seeming to be the younger. Had to laugh at Tugger, since Rumpleteazer and Victoria were fussing all over him, and he got the twitches, shaking all over quite badly!
A lot more action to the ball, just kept going and going up until the mating dance, with two rather unusual couples from what I spotted - Demeter with Admetus (I confused him with Plato at first, he was wearing a Plato costume similar to the video) and Coricopat with Victoria, lifting her up as Plato would normally do. Munkustrap stayed detached, preferring to do as Tugger does and stay above the action, whereas Tugger joined in a lot more.
Second half of the ball seemed better than the first. You know I have no idea where these dancers get their energy - you get outta breath just watching them! But just, fantastic, all the way through. No fault at all!

Memory
Grizabella came out at the end, as per usual, and everyone just shunned her, turning away. All bar Demeter, who looked really scared but really looked like she was forcing herself to go a tiny bit closer, but eventually it got too much and Bombalurina had to help her offstage again. Grizabella (Sally Whitehead) wasnt bad at this point, though she made Grizabella as haunting as usual, carried the song well. Can't fault her because she really did do her best, though I still favour Chrissie in the position.

Interval ~ Got my programme signed with a gold pen by Old Deuteronomy (Nick Pound) - "With Love, Old Deut. x" Told him I loved the show and he thanked me with a smile. Ooh I'm too good at this, lol.

ACT II

The Moments Of Happiness
Coricopat came out first and sat in front of Old Deuteronomy, who went "Meow" at him. Cassandra came up the side aisle where we were sitting, too, didnt see her till she got up on the stage, then she had a kind of snog with Cori who was waiting, then as she passed him he sniffed her butt! O.O Then they sort of lapped the stage a few times before the others came out. It was Cassi who seemed to take Tantomile's place when Jemima was doing her singing.
Very haunting song, not one of my favourites but have to love it.

Gus The Theatre Cat
Loved Rebecca Vere as Jellylorum again. Good voice, and didn't take over or scold Gus too much. She just seemed very gentle with him. Gus himself, played by Nick Charters again, great performance. Had to laugh at his "bloodcurdling noises to bring on the ghosts" - everyone just exited the stage! Also, as per usual, when the audience clapped him he got overexcited and Jellylorum had to calm him down.

Growltiger's Last Stand/The Ballad Of Billy McCaw
Oh how I love this scene. Had Skimble, Misto, Munkustrap, Tugger and Alonzo as the resident pirates. They still all lusted after Griddlebone, who completely ignored Tugger and went after Skimble instead - needless to say Tugger wasnt impressed. ;)
Nick Charters excelled at Growltiger. The guy should have this as a permanent role, because he played it beautifully. He kept ignoring Griddlebone completely, dropped her on the couch/floor/flat surface whenever possible, and she looked pretty hacked off that he was so nasty to her. She just sat there anyway and yawned all the way through "The Ballad" finally managing to sing some of the end of the song with Growltiger, who just sang every line himself until she elbowed him aside. *grin* Then they sat down and she started paying attention to Mistoffelees, who played with her tail in return.
The rest of the song was pretty much ordinary as usual, though Coricopat was the lead Siamese, I can tell you that much.

Skimbleshanks The Railway Cat
Joe Ryan was pretty good. I've seen a lot of different Skimble's and I can't choose between them, so I'm not about to start now. What made me laugh was Tugger following the queens making up the train around the stage and eyeing up Cassandra a lot. Guy Paul got the spotlight and shone it stage right - ie right in my face! LOL. Had to shut my eyes till he put it off, cos he wouldnt move it, the meanie. ;)

Macavity
I wasnt sure what to expect here. I'd heard a little of Summer's singing, and a bit of Amy Ellen, since she was Jemima when I saw the show before. It wasn't mindblowing stuff, let's be fair, but it was a pretty good performance of my favourite song. I'd have said they were both pretty much low voiced/alto pitch but they carried it off well.
Tempo of the music was different again. The dancing from the both of them on the whole was pretty good, lovely choreography, although this was slowed to fit the music. Demeter kept looking around to make sure Bomba was there and constantly needed some sort of supervision. Although she seemed very wary she also made the dance more sensual than she should do if she was really in that scared state!
The fight: Alonzo wasn't there to protect Demeter - Munkustrap attacked Macavity and Demeter managed to sneak away. General usual fight scene though it took a little more for Munkustrap to fall down but after dealing with Alonzo, Macavity suddenly found himself surrounded and left, blowing the lights out with one heck of a bang!

Mr. Mistoffelees
I'm gradually warming to Guy Paul as Mistoffelees now. On appearing onstage from above he zapped a area of stage near Bomba, who ended up clinging to Tugger for dear life, who was only too happy to cart her to safety.
Good acrobatics from Misto, I still havent bothered to count exactly how many times he turns round in a pirourette type thing when he's dancing solo! Anyway, can't fault the performance at all. The only difference from the standard video is that Cassandra was picked, and tried to get away, but Carbucketty stopped her so she had to go back and do the trick. I think we know how that ends up. though she didnt reappear on the stage for a while. ;) Memory
Grizabella's reappearance. The Cats scorned her and turned aside, as usual. I was waiting for something from Sally and yeesh I got it. The bit where Jemima sings with her, and she gets up and sings, "Touch me..." - if I get a shiver up my spine, she's a good actress - well I got the shiver up my spine, so she's approved, lol.

Ascension To The Heaviside Layer/The Addressing Of Cats
Pretty much as the video production, apart from the Golden paw that comes down, also the dry ice/smoke was just about everywhere. *coughchokegasp* And yeah, that was that. Except right at the end when the audience was applauding Jennyanydots came down and started dancing with a couple of little girls on the end of our row, who adored her and tried to follow her when she left. Also had Tugger pinching Cassandra's butt and then following Bombalurina offstage, and Grizabella finally managed to grab Mistoffelees and literally dragged him off too!


And as for the Stage Door...

There was quite a crowd here. In the duration of half a hour I managed to get the autographs off Sally Bayes (Jemima), Sarah Bayliss (Jenny), Nick Charter (Gus/Bustopher), Adrian Edmeades (Mungo), Stuart Ramsey (Tugger), Guy Paul (Misto), Tommi Sliiden (Cori), Ben Tribe (Macavity), Rebecca Vere (Jelly) and Justin/Jay Webb (Bill Bailey).

Funny bits and other stuff ~ Sarah Bayliss coming out and saying she'd rushed off 'cos she needed a Costa's Coffee! (Actually saw her when she came back. It was a BIG coffee..)
Sally Bayes and Guy Paul came out with makeup on, Guy Paul also had his wig on, and they were both sitting there on the steps and smoking away like anything! Actually asked Guy Paul if Munkustrap aka Norman Bowman (*cough* I'm so sorry, I couldn't help myself) would come out and he said no. :(
Also Stuart Ramsey came out and was being silly with some of us waiting for autographs - he's only around 5ft 9 I reckon, and rather cuddly, for want of a nicer word. He joked that he wears a corset onstage. O.o
Talked to Tommi for a bit, about the video and what not. He seemed pretty quiet, just the sort for a role like he plays.
Justin Webb - Heaviside above the guy is TINY! I swear he was only about 5ft or something, and looks really young! Also the brochure picture is a good one of him, changed a bit from the one I found and posted a while back on the Musicals forum and on this website.
Lastly, had a long converse with Ben Tribe, who popped out and came back. He was still in makeup and was talking about doing panto in December (in Bristol or something) with Lily Savage, mwahah. He didn't look too pleased about it, let's leave that there. He also revealed something else from a question a little girl asked...I'll leave you to read that on my Newspoint, cos that's where it really belongs. And I'm done!

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