The Liverpool Empire Theatre,
The was my last time seeing the show before their first wave of cast changes that saw some of my favourites depart, and it has to be said I wasn't at my sharpest at stage door that night! But never fear, he may not appear in the photos, but my little Superhero Matthew Caputo was there to help me chase a few stragglers through the railway station for goodbye photos and to chat away to me as we went, all in order to make sure that this was one of my more surreal, but also more memorable, stage door experiences! My main memory of the show that night is of just how good it was: as is always the case with Cats, the cast are usually so fully in their stride by the time they come up for a cast change that you will see some of their more sublime performances towards the end of their run and only really come to fully appreciate just how good each and every one of them is individually but also together as a tribe just as you realise you are about to lose that version of the show forever very shortly after. I was lucky enough to see the Alonzo I had grown so fond of James Darch play Munkustrap that night and was absolutely delighted to discover just how wonderful he was in the part - his humour was truly wonderful and his command as the leader of the tribe was so perfect, with just the right touch of despair and a certain element of trying to hold it together but not quite knowing how which I thought was a really interesting take on it, as if Munkustrap was handling the Jellicle Ball on his own for the first time and finding it frazzling, which added some really fun character dynamics. As always I was watching the kittens for most of the night, especially Carbucketty, and I was delighted to get the chance to dance with Jemima and Bill Bailey in the finale. At stage door I was trying to cram in the goodbyes: I had tickets for Nottingham booked by then, and was relieved to find out from Joel that he was due to still be there for those shows though I was sad to find out after that he would be leaving, but besides Dawn I discovered almost all my favourites were leaving and I was so desperate to make the most of my last time to see them but seemed to be out of luck at catching them at the stage door. I was really happy to properly bid goodbye to Will Lucas and Jessica Buckby, but sadly I missed out on James Darch, something I was all the more sad about after his star turn as a stella understudy that night and it was with a heavy heart I began to admit defeat and head across the road for the train station. And that was when my Superhero Matthew Caputo appeared, smiling and friendly and recognising me instantly, asking me if I enjoyed the show and just generally being his lovely self. And, to my surprise, when I mentioned I was sad I hadn't caught James Darch he leapt into action instantly! He knew they'd popped into the station to the cast machine and offered to help me find them. To say I was beaming would be an understatement, and I wish I had had the presence of mind to give him the biggest thank you squeeze! We chatted about the show as we walked and we got to talk about Carbucketty and the kittens and he was just so kind to me and he duly located James Darch who was with Will Lucas and...I think Joel was also there, if I remember rightly? And Matthew was kind enough to explain how much I had wanted to tell him I'd loved his performance and it led to me having a surreal but wonderful moment of talking to an understudy Munkustrap and a Bill Bailey in the middle of a half-deserted Liverpool Lime Street. I was giddy the whole train journey home. My poor jet-lagged father was just...exhausted and relieved to not need to stay awake any longer, I believe!