Matthew Mintsis in CATS
Photo: Emily Cooper


Children’s Theatre of Richmond
CATS Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, based on Old Possum’s Book Of Practical Cats by T.S. Eliot

When & Where July 29 - August 7, 2022; Nightly at 7pm (Dark Mon and Tues); Sat & Sun Matinees at 2pm | PAL Studio Theatre, 581 Cardero Street, Vancouver

Director Mark Carter Musical Director Jeremy Hoffman Choreography Ken Overbey Set Designer Brian Ball Costume Designer Lily Yuen Lighting Designer Darren Hales Executive Producer Lily Yuan Stage Manager Alivia Sabatino

Reviewer John Jane

Adapted from The Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, a collection of children’s poems by T.S. Eliot, CATS has become one of the most successful stage musicals ever and much of that success is due to Andrew Lloyd Webber’s contagious score that sets Eliot’s jeu d'esprit verse to dance and music.

The Children’s Theatre of Richmond has brought an excellent Young Actors Edition of CATS to a magically transformed PAL Theatre. The cast, all school-age kids with an average age of around fourteen – the youngest, Ricky Wang is eight and Sebastian Bellamy, who naturally plays the role of wise Old Deuteronomy is the group’s veteran at eighteen.

While this show is a compact version suited to a large youth cast, it lacks very little of a full-blown production. The twenty-four PURR-formers assembled for this production did an excellent job in planting these memorable tunes in the audience’s psyche. The show is very much an ensemble piece with the entire cast committing 100%.

The PAL’s eighth-floor theatre space turns into a cosmic chaparral in which all the “cats” (and kittens) get an opportunity to strut their stuff, revealing characters very much like those that we might observe in a human community. Because of the limited floor space and close proximity of the audience, Ken Overbey’s straight forward choreography had to be executed with conviction and confidence - and it was.

CATS lacks any real plot nor does it have any principal characters. Nonetheless there are some individual performances that stand out. Cris Xie and Millicent Liu are delightful playing off each other as the mischievous duo of cat-burglars Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer. Matthew Mintsis holds everyone’s attention as the super-cool, hard-rocking Rum Tum Tugger. Daniella Lambert is a graceful ballerina as the demure white kitten Victoria. Claire Torrence manages to deliver all the pathos of the once glamour-puss who has lost her sparkle. As Grizabella, she does a stellar job on the show-stopper “Memory.”

Lily Yuen’s flamboyant costumes and Senem Yaman’s ostentatious make-up keep with the spirit of Eliot’s “cats” and at the same time allowed dancers freedom of movement and spontaneous expression. Brian Ball wisely goes for ‘less-is-more’ with his minimalist set. The lack of stage clutter allows safe movement for the adolescent sized “cats.”

If there was ever a show that the whole family can go out and enjoy, this has to be it. It’s a musical that transports the audience into a nocturnal fantasy world that could only exist in the theatre.

© 2022 John Jane