I AM MORE OF A MUSIC ENTHUSIAST and do not consider myself much of a film collector as much as I am of audio titles and books. I do own a few film titles, the ratio probably being 1 film/video for every 25 audio discs, a few of these musical and film soundtracks.
Embarrassing as it may sound, one of the first original videos I ever bought was when the short-lived Blockbuster video store on Matalino Street near our old dojo made the double-disc, 2-hour Cats, The Musical VCD available, something I considered quite pricey at the time, but well worth the purchase. (The video, directed by David Mallet, was shot "over 18 days" at the Adelphi Theatre in London's West End; the play, accompanied by a 70-piece orchestra.)
By its very genre, Cats, being a musical, fulfilled me both aurally and visually and fit right into my other collection of soundtracks and videos.
|VCD, book and Mouser captured on Moleskine|
When Cats, The Musical opened in Broadway in the early 80s, the buzz surrounding it reached Manila and developed somewhat of a cult following among some of my peers in college who were in theater. When the production was given due recognition after winning both the Laurence Olivier (1981) and Tony (1983) Awards for Best Musical, we had spent many a downtime chats about mounting our own version of it at some point (something, I am sure, we shared with several other campus theater groups at the time and with many other theater companies since Cats, The Musical came into being). We had no idea what the costs were like and we didn't care. Just thinking of who was cast and who were perfect for certain roles from among friends and familiar theater names stirred our imagination no end.
Owing to reviews of the musical I had read at some point back in college and listening to a friend's original cast recording of the Broadway soundtrack on CD (Grammy-Best Musical Show Album/1984), and the video I purchased much later, I did dream of being able to actually watch it live either in Broadway or West End. It was one of those "must do" activities I would have done as a visitor had I the chance to go to either of those places.
|Original Cats West End window card (Dewynters/1981)|
T.S. Eliot and catsIn my book-hunting escapades in the early 90s, I came across a copy of T.S. Eliot's Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats [Illustrated Edition-Harvest/HBJ Books, 1982], the book on which the musical was based. Profusely illustrated by the great Edward Gorey , it was a real treat to have the sole copy priced at P2.50.
I love T.S. Eliot's play of words and imagination, something which, if one were unfamiliar, may seem wild but are actually accurate, sometimes dark, but over-all humane and humanistic representations of feline characteristics; also, of the funny descriptions of perceived cat inter-actions. The book was an even better read with the pen-and-ink drawings of the very imaginative Edward Gorey.
Needless to say, T.S. Eliot, since being introduced through a book from the high school library, is a favorite, one of the few poets I actually read. Like many excellent works of literature, my appreciation of his works deepened over time and was made even more special when a very good friend wrote The Hollow Men on a poster she gave me as a gift years ago. The Hollow Men still stands as one of my favorite pieces.
We did have our Rum Tum Tigers, Our Grizabellas (Derby, JaJa, Mysteriously Mystifying Ms. T, and her kit, Ms. M), our Bustopher Joneses and our Deuteronomys, Black Cat and George. Yes, our cats were all well represented in T.S. Eliot's feline world.
But above and beyond there's still one name left over,
And that is the name that you never will guess;
The name that no human research can discover—But THE CAT HIMSELF KNOWS, and will never confess.
When you notice a cat in profound meditation,
The reason, I tell you, is always the same:
His mind is engaged in a rapt contemplation
Of the thought, of the thought, of the thought of his name:
His ineffable effable
Deep and inscrutable singular Name
~ The Naming of Cats, T.S. Eliot
Near ImpossibleCats, The Musical sadly ended its run at the turn of this century—it closed in Broadway in 2000 after 18 years; London in 2002 after 21—dashing my hope of ever seeing it live in either of those venues and as they were originally staged.
Because of the cost of mounting a production like Cats, The Musical, a major, professional staging in the Philippines as Webber and Mackintosh had intended it was near impossible at that time, or since. It's been quoted that Andrew Lloyd Weber's Really Useful Group spent $5M to mount the Broadway production in 1982.
(If I recall correctly, the costliest Philippine musical production ever staged locally was S.K. Productions' Rama at Sita in 1999 at the UP Diliman Theater. It was said S.K. Productions' generosity resulted in spending for necessary upgrades of many of the venue's facilities for the first time since its construction, i.e. the orchestra pit, hydraulic lift and dressing rooms, among others.)
Anyhow, of all the re-staged hit plays and musicals in Broadway or West End that were ever mounted in full in the Philippines, it was Cats that was missing big time.
Cats in Manila: at lastFast forward to 2010 and Manila will finally be able to experience Cats (Now and Forever)-The Musical with no less than Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awardee Lea Salonga as Grizabella (done originally by the great Elaine Paige/London and Betty Buckley/Broadway).
[Watch Elaine Paige's rendition of the song "Memory" here and about the character here (starting at 1:17).]
|Lea Salonga sings Memory at the Cats (Now and Forever) launch, Nov09|
[courtesy of Cats in Manila]
The last time I saw Lea on stage was in Miss Saigon also at the CCP in 2000—yes, that long ago yet. Before that, I caught Grease at the UP Theater (1994) in which she played "Sandy". I remember her playing that role perfectly despite the venue being ill-equipped acoustically that, on the night I saw it, the rain outside almost upstaged the audio in the theater several times.TICKET PRICES
(inclusive of 3% service charge)MatineesSAT (3:00 pm) / SUN (2:30 pm)PhP 7,210/ 5,150/ 3,605/ 2,060/ 1,030-EveningsTUE (8:00 pm) / WED (8:00 pm)THU (8:00PM) / SUN (7:30PM)PhP 6,180/ 4,635/ 3,090/ 1,545/ 772.50-EveningsFRI (8:00 pm) / SAT (8:00 pm)PhP 7,210/ 5,150/ 3,605/ 2,060/ 1,030-NO CHILDREN UNDER 3 YEARS OF AGE WILL BE ADMITTED
In recent years, I'd caught her briefly and occasionally on TV in noontime variety shows or televised specials.
It is, therefore, interesting to watch Lea on stage again, definitely more mature this time, and in the footsteps of legends. Quite a contrast to when she played "Kim" as a teenager, the role which won for her the Tony and other awards and set the standard by which all other "Kim"s are expected to uphold in the succeeding runs of Miss Saigon.
And to see the costumes, the junkyard set, the lighting, music and choreography—I am looking forward to seeing all those. Finally, in Manila. At last.
- Cats (Now and Forever) the Musical will run at the CCP Main Theater until 15 August, 2010.
- Presented by Lunchbox Theatrical Productions Ltd. and David Atkins Enterprises
- Produced by Citi in association with The Really Useful Group.
- More details can be read at its Facebook page and at its official Tumblr blog.
- Tickets at Ticketworld, and from its outlets: NBS Shangri-La Plaza, Market Market Extension, North Edsa, Harrison Plaza, Glorietta 5 / Robinsons Department Stores / Ayala Malls Greenbelt 1, Glorietta 5, TriNoma 4th Floor / CCP Box Office / Music Museum, Teatrino Promenade (Greenhills) / GRAND SQUARE STADIUM, Sta. Rosa, Laguna / TicketWorld Head, Suite 701, V. Madrigal Bldg. 6793 Ayala Ave., 1226 Makati City Telephone: 891-9999 TicketWorld Website
- Online purchase using your VISA, JCB or Master Card credit cards.