We all know of the famous show, CATS, but in case you haven’t already heard, CATS opened Dubai Opera’s 2017 season last night. British Mums were super excited to be invited for a sneak media preview – and believe us when we say, it’s something you do not want to miss!
The original CATS production opened in 1981 – it is one of the longest-running shows in the West End and has been seen by 73 million people worldwide. It’s been performed in over 300 cities worldwide, but this will be the first time that it’s being performed in the UAE.
The cast performed songs from the show – ‘Jellicle Songs for Jellicle Cats’ and then ‘Memory’. The former was an upbeat, catchy number that included the whole cast and was a lot of fun to watch (and we’ll be singing it for the next week probably “Because jellicles can and jellicles do. Jellicles do and jellicles can. Jellicles can and jellicles do. Jellicles do and jellicles can! etc etc). The latter was an incredible showcase of Joanna Ampil’s (Grizabella) talents – it was sung beautifully and it gave the entire audience goosebumps listening to it (and there may or may not have been some tears!…..)
After the performance, we were given backstage access to see where all the magic begins. We were taken on a guided tour by Stephen Diamond, the tour Company Director for CATS and he filled us in on everything behind the scenes.
The production company bring the entire set with them – the only thing they use from Dubai Opera is the building and the electricity! It all gets packed into eight 45ft containers and transported around the world (imagine the responsibility of having to move CATS – that must be terrifying!)
It takes a day and a half to build the stage but only 12 hours to take it all down.
There are 28 Cats (including 5 understudies), 9 musicians (but it feels like 50 when you’re listening as the sound is sensational) and 80 touring crew. That’s a lot of people to make a show happen!
The creators of CATS only wanted the audience to see cats and no humans at all, so all of the orchestra is hidden behind the scenes. We didn’t know that!
The stage is raked (sloped), which gives it the impression of depth and also improves the view for the audience. The idea is that it shouldn’t really matter where you sit as you should get a great view wherever. Clever!
Every cat sings live! You can actually hear each individual voice and it’s wonderful.
The creative team on this tour are the original team from 1981 and the original choreographer, Dame Gillian Lynne (who is now 91 by the way!) also choreographed this show. The cast told us that she still remembers every single detail, even down to how every paw should be used. What a privilege!
Every cat does their own make-up and this can take anything from 25 minutes up to an hour and a half, depending on the character.
At the end of the tour, we had a Q&A session with 5 of the cats including Rum Tum Tugger, Grizabella and Bustopher Jones. British Mums asked if they had any advice for all of the aspiring young actors and actresses in Dubai who would love to be cats on stage one day. The response was a resounding “Get into a dance school now – and FOCUS!”
CATS will no doubt be a huge success here in Dubai and we can’t wait to see the full show!
Performances take place between 16th – 28th January and include matinée performances for families at 14;00 – 16:40. Evening performances (except Saturday) are 20:00-22;40 and Saturdays are 19:00 – 21:40. Tickets start from 275 AED each and are on sale at www.dubaiopera.com