SITTING in the audience at The Mayflower last night was a bit like travelling back in time.

Some 20 years ago I was a keen GCSE music student and part of my coursework involved studying Andrew Lloyd Webber’s feline musical.

But this time round I didn’t have to travel up to London to see it on the West End stage, this was the new touring version which has stopped off in Southampton for the next tendays.

Based on T.S Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s recordbreaking adaptation Cats is a joyous mix of music and dance, with a spot of magic thrown in courtesy of Mr Mistoffelees.

For those not familiar with the storyline it all centres around Jellicle cats and their night-time activities, culminating on one special night of the year where they all meet at the Jellicle Ball with Old Deuteronomy, their wise and benevolent leader, choosing which of them will go up to the heaviside layer and be reborn into a whole new Jellicle life.

Prowling, growling and stalking their way around the stage, the actors are incredibly cat-like, even moving among the audience and surprising an unsuspecting theatre-goer or two. The performers’ energy levels are phenomenal.

The arrogant yet lovable Rum Tum Tugger struts his stuff with an air of authority across the rubbish bin set while Skimbleshanks the Railway Cat performs a lively dance routine using all manner of props.

Unusually a production with no principal performer, the haunting ballad Memory, sung by Grizabella the Glamour Cat, played by Joanna Ampil, steals the show with a commanding vocal performance.

If you’ve never seen Cats before, or are just a former GCSE student wanting to roll back the years, then book your ticket now.