Thursday, August 12, 2010

Cats live in Manila

If you’re looking for a musical with a story, then don’t watch Cats (playing at the Cultural Center of the Philippines). The whole musical was simply all about the different kinds of cats shown on a very expensive and breathtaking theatrical set with cool lightings, backdrops and all. If there was even a story in it, it was only about the rebirth of the ex-glamour cat Grizabella (played by Lea Salonga).

I understand that it has been one of the longest running shows in history, but I felt like it cannot be appreciated anymore at this time where a lot of musicals with well-written plots filled with drama, action and comedy exist. I guess my biggest mistake was I did not research about it and read just even its synopsis before watching it. This expectation gap led to my eventual disappointment. Halfway through the show, I still couldn’t grasp the plot until I realized that there was none at all!

The whole cast (except for Salonga) came from Australia and the UK. Thus, their accents were very noticeable as they sang and spoke. I guess they didn’t have the time (nor drive) to practice and execute a neutral accent for the Filipino audience. I should say that their dancing and energy were superb – everything almost seemed to be a talent show to me, rather than a musical. As for their singing ability, I can say it was just so-so except for Lea, whose voice really stood out among the rest (putting bias aside). The power of her singing prowess sent shivers all over me as she started singing.

Lea Salonga, in my opinion, chose the role of Grizabella because it only required singing with less dancing. As we know, Lea is more of a singer (actually one of the best in the world) rather than a dancer. But I was surprised that she only sang thrice (if I’m not mistaken), the last time being just a reprise of her second song “Memory.” She only stayed onstage for only about around 15 minutes in total (out of the 2.5 hours running time of the entire show), making her role only a minor one.

To sum it all up, Cats is one wholesome piece of entertainment that showcases splendid dancing and less of singing (except for Lea, of course). All the parts were meticulously rehearsed and executed, making it seem flawless amidst the lack of story. Do not ask me if I would recommend it to be seen, as I still don’t know what to answer up to now. All I can say it, it was overpriced. Just decide for yourself and be the judge.


My rating: 70%

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