Posted On August 14, 2010

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Review by Sary Valenzuela, 14

Lea Salonga as Grizabella

I’ve never really been a “cat person”. Being allergic to them all my life, I’ve always thought cats to be dangerous, troublesome, and scary because of their extremely sharp claws. Well, that was until I watched “Cats, Now and Forever” at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP). “Cats” is a multi-awarded theatre musical which boasts of being the second longest running show in Broadway history. After it first opened in West End, London in 1981 and then in Broadway a year later, it instantly gained worldwide recognition as one of the best musicals ever staged. Since then, “Cats” has won the hearts of thousands of people around the globe, moving them with great songs, awesome choreography, and unbelievable acrobatics.

If you’re wondering what this play is all about, “Cats” revolves around a tribe of felines, the Jellicle Cats. One night every year, all the Jellicle Cats gather together to have the Jellicle Ball. This is also the night wherein Old Deuteronomy, the leader of the tribe chooses one cat to be reborn into a new life, the Heaviside Layer.

Whoever thought up of the dance moves must be a genius because the choreography took my breath away! I would think that this is the show’s greatest strength as the choreographer was able to combine a wide variety of dance styles into smooth-flowing sequences. Jazz, tap, modern, and even ballet were used effectively to make each scene so exciting!

I was truly moved especially in the part when Lea Salonga, who plays Grizabella, the outcast of the tribe, sang the play’s signature song, “Memory.” Lea gave justice to one of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s greatest compositions as she was able to convey her character’s longing for past glory through song. As expected, her vocals triggered an eruption of applause and a standing ovation after she finished the last note. Despite her marvelous performance, I’ve got to say that I was a bit disappointed because she was only present in three or four scenes during the entire three-hour show. I thought a Broadway legend like her would have more parts than that!

I can only imagine how a show like this would demand so much of each cast member, requiring each one to be extraordinarily talented in both singing and dancing! Everyone, except for Lea, was expected to sing effortlessly while doing extreme dance steps (which often looked more like gymnastics routines) at the same time!

Truth be told, the show was simply a representation of the different types of personalities that make up a society. Each cat represented a stereotype which is creatively presented through melodious lyrics and interpretative dance. The audience is often reminded that no person (or feline) is perfect and everyone is entitled to make a mistake every once in a while. It’s all about forgiveness and second chances at life.

To all those who are watching the play but aren’t familiar with the plot, I suggest you read the synopsis in advance because you might get a tad bit confused while watching it. To all those who haven’t bought tickets yet, I strongly suggest you should because this is a show even “non-cat-lovers”, like myself, will enjoy.

“Cats” is extended for one more week, until August 22. Purr-ing in the entire CATS Manila season are an international cast with the Tony-award winning star of Miss Saigon, Lea Salonga as the profound character of Grizabella, the glamour cat. Tickets are priced from P750 to P7,000. Senior citizens enjoy 20% discount and students get 10% discount. Groups of 30 or more (30 tickets and up) can avail of a 10% discount.

All tickets are available at all TicketWorld outlets, selected National Bookstore branches, Robinsons Department Store and Ayala Center, and TicketWorld Office at 6793 Ayala Avenue, Suite 701 V. Madrigal Building, Makatsi City. To book, call +632 891 9999, or visit TicketWorld’s website

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