The whole Cats saga began when my photo buddies and I decided to watch Cats in Manila way after the run started, in fact we bought our tickets right after the final extension was announced. It was a harrowing experience to say the least. I’ll try to condense this in a few sentences. First when we got to Ticketworld in GB1 at around 7:30pm, we found out that they close at 7pm. Then, we rushed to the branch at G5, which closes at 8pm. We got in the car and started driving to G5 when a cop flagged us down for a broken headlight. By the time we were done, we drove in heavy traffic inside Makati and got to the parking with barely 10 minutes to go. We had no choice but to make a run for it, and let Greg’s pregnant wife Sharon park the car as we ran to G5 with less than 5 minutes before it closed. Then, 3 credit cards fail to transact until we pooled enough cash to pay for the 6 tickets we needed.
On the day of the show, we decided that we would be extra early to avoid the rush and avoid a repeat of that exhausting day. We got to CCP with a good 30 minutes to spare. Even as we entered the theatre, we were amazed at how the stage looked. By then I was really excited. I was never really a big fan of the musical. My favorites were Jesus Christ Superstar and Hair, which are of a different funkier mold as far as musicals go. When the video came out in 1998, I remember watching the VHS tape and fell asleep, and thereby never touching the tape ever again. So I wasn’t really planning to watch until we all decided to, mainly for the reason that Lea Salonga was appearing as Grizabella.
But boy was I glad I watched. What we experienced was a far cry from watching the video from a beanbag. From the very first minute to the very last, it was amazing! It might not be as great watched on TV, but the live experience was something else. I heard some reviews were not glowing, but maybe because I’m no expert, but to me the whole spectacle was worth every single centavo we spent for the tickets (that was another reason we were quibbling about, because the ticket prices were pretty steep). We weren’t very familiar with all the songs, but it was really fun to watch whether you knew the songs or not. I think basically they got dancers who can sing, because the play was heavy on dance, with really difficult choreography reminiscent of SYTYCD performances. But don’t get me wrong, the leads like Munkustrap, Old Deuteronomy and Grizabella all had incredible pipes. What’s also nice was, every now and then, the cats would come down from the stage and “play” with the audience. And to our delight, they did so extensively during the intermission. About 5 cats came out and went into the audience. Two cats even came to us and got Delle’s bag and started playing with it. Here are some pics courtesy of Fritzie Lee:
Of course the highlight of the musical was the bravura performance of Lea Salonga singing the banner song of the play, Memory. Wow, what a voice. We all know how good she is, but every single time I hear her sing live, only then do I get an idea of just how good she really is. From the gravelly low notes to the show-stopping high notes, the lady delivers. It was just cute to note that at one point, the cast sings a version of Memory and one cat sang a few lines in Tagalog! It was quite disconcerting to hear the incongruous lines that got everyone clapping.
By the end of the show, we were all hooked! We were all humming along to lines from the songs, no matter how much we were inventing the lyrics. And kudos to the rest of the cast, it wasn’t just about Lea Salonga, everyone else of the mostly Australian and British cast were incredible! The audience can tell they were giving it their all whether they were dancing or singing and applauded them generously for it. Theatre isn’t as popular in the country as movies and concerts are, but it’s really quite an experience. It’s something that most Pinoys should explore because it’s a shame if you never get the thrill of watching actors and singers and dancers on stage performing right in front of you. It’s the ultimate in 3D, if you think about it. It’s just sad that yesterday was the last performance for this run. Although I’m not much of a theatre-goer myself, watching Cats whetted my appetite once again to see more shows.
(Thanks again to Fritzie for the photos!)