Reviewed by Dave Smith
The Whyalla Players took on the challenge and potential pit-falls of staging such a well known and demanding piece as Cats and they succeeded admirably. They played to an enthusiastic full house in the Middleback Theatre.
Director Tina Wagner’s focused and purposeful cast presented an evenly balanced performance within a framework of strong production values. They made good use of the breadth and depth of the large stage and the functional set.
The singing and dance were particular highlights. The movement was complex and precise, to the great credit of eighteen year old choreographer Sotiria Vlachoulis who also played Mungojerrie. Her combined performance of Mungojerrie and Rumpleteaser with Laura Shaw was outstanding. Among other fine ensemble dancing, Kristina Kotsomitis as Mr Mistoffelees and Casey Sawyer as Victoria were especially noteworthy.
Peter Brown was Musical Director while Kathy Suttar, conductor and vocal coach, maintained the energy, mood and precision required of the singers. Ron Hay was a commanding Old Deuteronomy, Sheila Mills succeeded as the worn-down Grizabella, while Stewart Payne (Gus) and Glen Smith (Jellylorum) combined beautifully in the moving Growltiger’s Last Stand. Phill Stone presented a stylish cameo as Bustopher Jones.
Chris Scanlon as Munkustrap, the Master of Ceremonies, held the narrative together with skill and smooth, active energy. He provided the changing moods of the production and gave the necessary central focal point for the action.
The whole production looked and sounded right. The costumes, designed by Eliza Bray and the intricate make-up designed by Corey Beinke-Heath provided a pleasing unity, and complemented the singing and choreography.
With Cats, the Whyalla Players have challenged themselves and have come up with a fine piece of quality theatre.