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Arts Diary: Magical show with at least nine lives; Laura Davis reviews Cats at the Liverpool Empire.

Byline: Laura Davis

BASED on poet TS Eliot's Old Possum's Book of Cats, Andrew Lloyd Weber's magical musical has excited and amazed audiences since its creation more than 20 years ago.

Set in a deserted rubbish dump where the animals hide among discarded ovens, wrecked cars and the wheels of old prams it replays the night of the annual Jellicle ball when a single cat is given the chance to be reborn.

As the moment of anticipation nears, each feline is introduced with their own song, revealing among the many yarns how Bustopher Jones, the white-spatted creature who enjoys tit bits in the gentleman's clubs of London's up market St James, is the ``mouser with the well kept trousers'' and uncovers the fickle lusts of the randy Rum Tum Tugger.

All of Eliot's creations are here Mungojerrie and Rumpelteazer, the mischievous animals who steal jewellery from women during dinner, cartwheeling in tandem across the stage with breathtaking agility; Gus the Theatre Cat who amuses his friends with tall tales of his days treading the boards switching from the infirmity of old age to the deftness of youth in a dramatic flashback; and Macavity the mystery cat who vanishes at the sign of trouble which he has almost certainly caused. As Mr Mistoffelees the conjurer, Guy-Paul Ruolt de St Germain spun in circles and leapt so perilously close to the edge of the stage that he threatened to lose one of his nine lives.

Chrissie Hammond is a passionate Grisabella the Glamour Cat, the faded beauty who wretchedly recalls the time when she was beautiful and well-loved, in the most famous melody of the show the haunting Memory.

Not to forget the sign language interpreter at the corner of the stage who brought the words to life for those unable to hear them.

Benefiting from humorous, sometimes ingenious lyrics from one of the greatest poets of the 20th century, this timeless musical is set to last at least another two decades.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Sep 16, 2004
Words:330
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