by Sharmaine Chan
What is a Jellicle cat, you ask?
CATS, the fourth longest running West End Musical since 1981 is back in Singapore. The imaginative story of cats is told through a series of poems written by T.S. Elliot about how cats are ‘very much like you’, each with a different, unique personality. The cats meet for the annual Jellice ball and are greeted by Old Deuteronomy, an elderly, wise leader that chooses one special Jellicle cat to be reborn.
I got an opportunity to speak with Jo-Anne Robinson, the director and choreographer for CATS. Having been on the set since its inception, Jo-Anne has been working hand in hand with the various production crews in Asia. She describes her time on set as “fulfilling, enriching and exciting”, with every production always a little different from the previous. Asking how she managed to translate the movement and habits of cats to on stage, she chuckled, saying, “back in the day when I first choreographed alongside Gillian Lynne, she had pointed to her cat to me and told me to get on all fours and follow his every movement!” She also said to keep a lookout for the car plate number J AR 12 on the car boot of the set, “It is actually my initials on that number plate,” she whispers, “and the number 12 is the number of productions that I have done.”
Boasting a killer cast, the furry felines put up a convincing show. Their on point choreography, pitch-perfect singing whilst leaping and prowling through the junkyard and even through crowd made the me feel as though I was actually in a junkyard full of these curious, magical creatures.
One thing about CATS, however, is that it is not really directed to kids, although they would be in awe with the myriad of costumes and dancing. It is one of the more thought-provoking musicals you would watch, and requires us to look at ourselves and who we really are. But for the young at heart, CATS is a timeless musical that is here to stay.
CATS is produced in Singapore by Lunchbox Theatrical Productions and Base Entertainment Asia in association with The Really Useful Group. The musical will be running from 9th January to 1st February 2015 at Marina Bay Sands.