|MIDAS Cast with matinée patrons|
And I used to know seventy speeches by heart
I'd extemporize backchat
I knew how to gag
And I knew how to let the cat out of the bag
I knew how to act with my back and my tail
With an hour of rehearsal
I never could fail
I'd a voice that would soften the hardest of hearts
Whether I took the lead or in character parts
The lines of Gus, the theatre cat seemed an appropriate epitaph for the doyen of character actors, the late Richard Briers, heard on a BBC tribute this week. Just one of the TS Eliot's witty characterizations of jellicle cats set to music by Andrew Lloyd Weber. With non stop singing and dancing and no dialogue , it needs a young energetic cast to do justice to Cats. Your average middleaged amateur thespian will not don those figure hugging costumes too happily lest they appear as jelly bellied rather than jellicle cats.
The young exuberant cast of MIDAS drawn from the student ranks of MICollege were unrecognizable , morphed by stage makeup and ingenious costumes into a nimble all singing and dancing feline tribe. An ingenious junk yard set with some nice subtle lighting effects provided a suitable back drop for the high octane song and dance action, choreographed by Ailbhe Joyce . There was no pit with the live band under MD Noel Lennon hidden behind the stage set .
There were some splendid voices, with Emily Lohan giving Grizabella the full operatic treatment in the best known number from the show, Memory. James Deegan's swaggering Rum Tum Tugger was big hit with the matinée school audience. and Austrian , Bernard Kogler-Sobl imbued Gus with great pathos. Stephen o Brien was a solid feline presence in the quasi narrator role of Munkostrap. Lee Dillon and Eleanor O Brien were beguiling as the mischievous pair Mungo Jerrie and Rumpleteaser and Matty Moran gave Old Deuteronomy the gravitas that was his due.
As soon as the show ended the cats joined the audience front of house to pose for photos before no doubt retiring for a catnap before the final purrformance later in the evening. Terrific!
**At the start of the second half, I noticed the distracting telltale lights of mobile phones in the row in front. On closer inspection, I noticed it wasn't school children transgressing this basic rule of theatre etiquette but their adult chaperones. Tut Tut ladies You know have to sit in the back row to get away with that!