Chrissie Hammond delivered one of the most sensational musical masterpieces I have seen on stage with her mesmerising performance of Memory in the much acclaimed Cats at the New Wimbledon Theatre last week, writes Tony Flood.

That was a truely magical experience, with Chrissie's spectacularly powerful voice superbly projecting one of Andrew Lloyd Webber's greatest numbers and earning a great ovation.

There were other moments which had me purring with pleasure as well, but overall the show, which has been bombarded with awards and accolades, did not live up to my high expectations. There is little story line or dialogue and the rest of Lloyd Webber's score does not measure up to the one standout fantastic number Memory, although several songs contain a good mix of pathos, humour and explosive action.

Even so, there was still much to admire - dazzling costumes, dance routines, design, lighting and direction plus vibrant performances from a talented, enegetic cast. And the audience loved it when a hoard of cats came down among them.

Chrissie Hammond was magnificent as Grizabella, the aging Glamour Cat, who is shunned by the others, while Rachel Ensor, as the young white cat Victoria, Stuart Ramsay (an assertive Rum Tum Tugger), James Paterson (the wise leader Old Deuteronomy), Louisa Barratt, as Jemima, Luke Jackson (Macavity) and Patrick Clancy (Bustopher Jones) also excelled. And the stunts performed by Trevor Schoonraad as Mistoffelees were outstanding.

Lloyd Webber's adaption of TS Eliot's Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats is set in an junkyard where our feline friends come out of the shadows for their annual meeting to select a member of their tribe to be reincarnated. And some fast and furious routines culminate in the Jellicle Ball.

When Cats opened in 1981 it won the Laurence Olivier award for Musical of the Year. Other shows have since stolen it's thunder, but Trevor Nunn's superb direction, the excellent choreography of Gillian Lynne, recreated by Chrissie Cartwright, and John Napier's clever design make it a colourful spectacle. And after 26 years of success, producer David Ian must be as happy as the cat's whiskers after counting record takings.

* Cats continues at the New Wimbledon Theatre until May 19.