The first time I saw CATS the musical I was seven. My mom received tickets as a birthday present from a colleague at work. In a large theater with squeaky folding seats, what was lodged in my memory was the superhero-like movements of the dancers — they were acrobats flinging their furred bodies across the stage, bending their limbs in impossible ways. I was entranced.
CATS the musical is coming to Brussels this month. From the 19th until the 24th of March, the production will be performed in English at the Palais 12 in Brussels. CATS’s producer, Frank Paridon, talks to Brussels Express about the timelessness of this musical, the performers’ high level of expertise, and why the public in Brussels should not miss the chance to see the show.
This is the very first time that CATS in English comes to Brussels. Why only now?
No specific reason other than that the show was not available or that a venue large enough (minimum 1500 seats) was not free. CATS was the opening show for the refurbished Koningin Elisabeth Zaal in Antwerp in Spring 2017
CATS has become a timeless musical. Why is it so appealing?
For many reasons:
The theme of ‘acceptance’ is timeless. People are fascinated by cats, especially because of their independence and stoicism – they do what they want as opposed to dogs. The variety of music styles in the show. An amazing choreography – it’s considered the most difficult musical to dance to and it still ‘fresh’ after nearly 40 years. The eye for detail in the wigs, make up and costume.
The level of performers – for every role there were over a 100 people who auditioned. It is a very ‘rich’ show – most of the time there are 10-20 cats on stage at the same time – lots to see all the time. Live orchestra of 9 people. It has become a legend over time – mothers take their daughters to see it; years before their mothers took them to the show and so on.
Could you say a few words about the choreography?
Gilian Lynn made the show in 1981. She died last year and a theatre on West End is named after her. Her legacy is guarded very well and the smallest details and gestures are maintained just as she designed them.
What are the differences (if any) between this production and the one in London?
None. This production played for 6 months on West End before it started traveling – the set, the dimensions, props, wigs and costumes are all exactly the same.
Any particular challenges that you have faced while putting together this production?
Combining the timing and the venue approximately 2-3 years beforehand is not easy – everyone wants the show – so it is really quite special to be able to see it here in Brussels.