Award-winning Filipina actress Joanna Ampil, who performed in “Les Miserables” for Queen Elizabeth II and the royal family, takes on Lea’s “puss boots” as this year’s Grizabella in "CATS."
Zeus Martinez Photography
Review: 5 things that make ‘CATS’ in Manila a ‘purrfect’ Christmas treat
Deni Rose M. Afinidad-Bernardo (Philstar.com) - November 21, 2019 - 4:28pm

MANILA, Philippines — It has been almost a decade since Andrew Lloyd Webber’s record-breaking 2015 Olivier award-nominated musical “CATS” first landed in Manila, with Tony Award-winning, Grammy-nominated singer-actress Lea Salonga in the lead as glamour cat Grizabella.

From the Cultural Center of the Philippines, “CATS” this year has found a new home in The Theatre at Solaire, where the musical runs until December 1 before moving to Singapore.

But apart from the venue, what has changed in the musical since its first Manila run in 2010? Here are some things that can be expected as one of West End and Broadway’s longest-running musicals return to Manila this 2019.

Pinoy pride

Award-winning Filipina actress Joanna Ampil, who performed in “Les Miserables” for Queen Elizabeth II and the royal family, takes on Lea’s “puss boots” as this year’s Grizabella. See her put her own powerful paw print on Grizabella’s hit signature track, “Memory.”

Apart from Joanna, check out the musical’s British cast members as they sing a song and greet the audience in Filipino. 

Christmas-like production design

At first, the stage seems smaller than CCP’s in 2010. But the junk-filled stage then turns very amazing and magical as soon as live orchestra music, sounds, lights, smoke, revolving platforms and other effects come in. 

The spectacles in Act 2 segments “Macavity,” “Mr. Mistoffelees,” “Memory” and “Journey to the Heaviside Layer” are the highlights to watch out for. It is also quite ingenious how the cats pull out their props that seamlessly blend with their junkyard backdrop.

Catchy songs and poetry

Research shows that poetry stimulates the right side of the brain, the region that responds to music. Thus, the musical’s rhyming lyrics based on T.S. Eliot’s “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats” could, if not make you feel, smart if you happen to recite and sing-along with the cast.

Sexy choreography 

Although the musical was based on a children’s poetry book, it is also replete with sexual innuendoes, skin-tight jumpsuits and Bob Fosse, “Cabaret”-like choreography that make it appeal to both child and child-at-heart.

Intimate and interactive

The audience is so close to the stage that the cast members get to interact with their viewers this time around, more than they did in 2010, giving watchers a “purr-sonalized” experience and memory. 

CATS JOANNA AMPIL
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