Music! Dancing! Leg warmers and cat suits!
Yes, we went to see the apparently immortal Cats, at the London Palladium yesterday, courtesy of the in-laws.
And what a strange, lovely, dreadful, incredible show it was too!
We were all so tired we could hardly keep our eyes open, after a big weekend of sixteenth birthdays and illness, but we dragged ourselves through the Arctic winds and all the way into London – my favourite city in the world – and into the red carpeted and faded splendour of the Palladium. And it was worth nearly every minute – even the awful parts.
The dancing and singing, was, of course, superb. And after a lifetime spent dissing Andrew Lloyd Webber, I have a new-found respect for him after having been subjected to the music from Wicked, Lion King and, of course, the world's favourite fart song, Let it Go. He might take his best ideas from other people, but he sure can write a good tune – one that is memorable, easy to sing and doesn't necessarily require one to whine. And if you think that Beethoven was the master of stringing out a coda, then just have a listen to old ALW.
However. I have never been to Cats, though have played the music from it numerous times – usually in lush orchestral arrangements. So it was quite a shock – and not necessarily a pleasant one! - to hear it in all it's original 1980's twangy synthesiser colour. In fact, I was (stupidly perhaps!) surprised as to quite how dated the whole thing was, with the big hair and make-up and, as pre-noted – the Jane Fonda leg warmers. They have beefed up one of the cats into being a New York street dancer – with beautiful British diction of course – and Juliette particularly enjoyed that, which was a relief after the digging me in ribs every time old Deuteronomy sang flat. Not that my children are at all judgmental,you understand. They have also beefed up the amplification, which was a pity as it meant that you could hardly hear the singers when the band was playing forte, so you had no idea why they were all singing about Umbilical cats, or dancing around with cereal packets on their feet or pink wings on their backs. But that didn't really seem to matter, as it was mainly about the spectacle of the thing.
After the show, we exited, with a mass of people all heading for Oxford Circus station, then on to Marylebone, all amongst crowds of chattering theatre goers, all perfume and spangles, faces alight, clutching programmes from various concerts and shows throughout London. And all this on a Monday night in February.
Oh, the intoxication of it all! You trundle up an escalator, past the posters for Wicked, War Horse, Carmina Burana - the ballet - The 39 Steps – now, along with just about every book ever written, a major singing and dancing triumph, (Just waiting for Wolf Hall, The Musical, starring Robbie Williams as Cromwell) Billy Elliott, The Lion King etc etc and your brain fizzes and jumps with the excitement of it all. This is London! It is all here for the taking! We could go to see anything!
And then you realise that no, that only applies to Millionaires. London is the city of beautiful people, the rich and talented, the famous and historical, the infamous and the mystical.
And you go home to your little village and get up four hours later to drive your children to school, everybody grumpy and tired and grey, in the golden light of dawn. Hey ho, the wind and the rain. Or something like that.