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The Community of Hungerford Theatre Company - Cats

14th to 17th February 2018

Review from the Newbury Weekly News.

It’s the cats’ whiskers

And Hungerford's feline good following the latest town show

Community of Hungerford Theatre Society: Cats, at John O'Gaunt School, Hungerford, from Wednesday, February 14, to Saturday, February 17

If you ever wondered why the musical Cats was all-singing, all-dancing and no plot with dialogue, it was all down to the estate of TS Eliot, whose poems about the animals formed the 'storyline'.

The Eliot estate stipulated that only the original poems were to be used as the text which, it is reported, confused the actors in the original production.

The first production in London was on May 11,1981, and the show ran for 21 years. It held the record as London's longest-running show, until it was overtaken by Les Miserables in October 2006.

All of which will indicate that this was a mammoth production for an amateur community theatre to take on, but such is the enthusiasm and talent of the combined members of TCOHTC they took it, shook it by its 47 cats' fur and got it on stage at John O'Gaunt. To mention all those performances would be impossible and to pick out a few unfair, so I will say only that every pussy cat on stage, including the tiny-tot kittens, went through their various moves, dance routines and songs enthusiastically and brightly.

From the opening Jellicle Songs For Jellicle Cats, through to the full cast finale, everybody went through their paces crisply, whether singing, dancing or walking on all fours.

The honours really, for big productions such as this, must go to the people who worked so hard to put it on and ensure that it went well. That would include Rouska Westall, who functioned as choreographer (a huge task in itself) and assistant director and also played a part as Demeter.

Certainly, the fine eight-piece orchestra conducted by Jo Pollit deserve special mention for skilfully interpreting Andrew Lloyd Webber's score.

Louise Patey, who has worked at the Watermill, designed the colourful costumes with help from a wardrobe team of 11.

Then there was Hoffi Munt, who played Bombalarina in the show and was also part of the set-painting team and helped with publicity.

Set designers, lighting and sound people all played their parts towards the success of this production and last, but far from least director David Clayton, who pulled all the various strands together and rehearsed the show until it was ready to run smoothly in front of an audience.

Maybe after their considerable hard work on this occasion, TCOHTC will choose something relatively easy for their next production?

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