IT is a worldwide musical phenomenon, of the furry, feline variety.

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats is back in the UK for the first time since 2008, currently being staged at The Opera House.

The stage is transformed into a larger-than-life junk yard where the various cats, inspired by a collection of whimsical poems by TS Eliot, are introduced one by one.

The actors stalk across the stage in the all-singing, all-dancing spectacular, displaying great vigour as the animals who always manage to land on their feet.

The action takes place throughout the night of the Jellicle Ball, at the end of which the cats’ wise leader Old Deuteronomy reveals which of them will go up to the heaviside layer to be reborn into a new life.

Joanna Ampil dazzles as Grizabella, a withered old cat who longs for the carefree, flamboyance of her youth as a dancer, performing the show-stopping Memory to fans’ delight.

Oliver Savile has swagger and style as Rum Tum Tugger, the cool, rebel tom cat who delights the female moggies in the yard.

Melissa James and Lily Frazer, as flirtatious Bombalurina and alluring Demeter, simmer during their sassy number Macavity, about the master criminal cat.

Mr Mistoffelees, a role previously played by Wayne Sleep and Louie Spence, is portrayed by Joseph Poulton who expertly flips his way round the stage.

In Act II, the creation of a runaway steam train is a delight to watch as the audience is introduced to the station cat.

The basic story, a strange and mystical one, is a backdrop for the songs and the characters, which have been much-loved since the show opened at the New London Theatre on May 11, 1981.

The make-up and costumes are spot on, although the musical overall does has a slightly dated feel to it.

But at more than 30-years-old, it is perhaps to be expected and no fault of the cast whose performances are purr-fect.

Cats, Manchester Opera House until Saturday, April 20.