5 reasons why I fell in love with CATS… the Musical!

by Jam Bufi
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After the success of past Broadway musicals that visited our country – Les Miserables, Wicked and Phantom of the Opera to name a few – no wonder more musicals are holding shows in the Philippines. In fact, the International musical Matilda, which was adapted from the Roald Dahl children’s book is already slated to come here early next year and 2019 is not done yet!

I recently watched the latest international Broadway musical to grace our country, CATS, and here are some of my thoughts (or rather feels!) after the almost three-hour long show in The Theatre at Solaire.


The actors must have nine lives!

George Hinson as Rum Tum Tugger. Photo: Roc Verdera.

The show flowed smoothly. The singing was flawless, the dancing was on time and in sync, the timings were just perfect. And the whole time, I was just imagining how much it took for the actors to perfect their shows – rehearsals, rigorous training, spending so much time away from their loved ones, and practicing both songs and dance numbers after hours. Do they have nine lives to be able to do it? But definitely, their portrayal of the cats and how they imagined cats would behave amused me. My personal favorite was the sassy and fabulous Rum Tum Tugger!


The majestic set

cats set in manila at solaire

The CATS set in The Theatre at Solaire

Upon entering the theatre, the first thing I noticed was the set – a mountain of trash under a bright white moon. While that doesn’t sound impressive, believe it or not, it was! Seeing the tiniest details on the stage and the amount of work put to building it was just amazing that it seemed 100% real. Also, combining machinery and strings to lift actors or move them around adds that bit of magic to take the scenes to the next level.

Music that sticks

joanna ampil in the broadway musical cats perform in manila at solaire

Joanna Ampil as Grizabella in CATS. Photo: Zeus Martinez Photography.

Musical songs are so catchy that they stick with you even after the show. Theatre songs are uniquely amazing and longer since the lyrics tell the story of the musical so it’s just 10 times more interesting! From “Jellicle Songs for Jellicle Cats” to “Mr. Mistoffelees” and of course “Memory”, the show’s most widely known song, all the songs were such a delight to hear live. Plus, listening to it after the show feels like reliving the musical all over again. A day after watching, I suddenly missed the experience and ended up listing to the CATS playlist on Spotify for a whole day, giddily smiling to myself as the scenes play out in my head for every song.

The dance numbers and the number of costumes!

Photo: Broadway World Philippines.

The choreography that comes with the songs just further adds to the fun spectacle! Combined with their colorful costumes, the actors moved in sync and every movement was just so well-thought of that I was just left smiling widely and clapping after every performance. The many, many cat costumes they had to create in order to differentiate the cats. The glamorous coats and accessories worn by the actors is so pleasing to the eyes that you can’t take your eyes off of the show for more than a second. The performance of “The Old Gumbie Cat” alone that was full of fan tap dancing and was so much fun to watch.

It’s a magical tail – I mean, tale!

Photo: Lunchbox Theatrical Productions

Maybe it’s the music combined with the dances but the overall storytelling felt so much more intimate, impactful and simply just magical! The actors’ voices were laced with emotion – especially Joana Ampil’s rendition of “Memory” – as they sing.

Watching a musical is not like watching a movie – musicals are an even more immersive experience. The actors and the set are right there in front of you, making you feel as if you’re a part of the musical’s world and that not something you can get from a two-dimensional screen.

Needless to say, musicals have won me over! The overall experience was so immersive and vibrant and just fun overall and I definitely get why people are so enamored by them. By the end of the show, everyone gave CATS a standing ovation as the cast did the curtain call and everyone cheered for their favorite characters as they came out. It was a one of a kind experience and I’ll surely be watching out for announcements of more Broadway musicals coming to the country. I can’t wait for the next one!


My rating: 4.5 out of 5 waves!


What’s your favorite musical? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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