Night falls over the junkyard, and every year, once a year, when the Jellicle moon shines bright, all the Jellicle cats come out to the Jellicle Ball—and it’s here where they choose who gets to go up to The Heaviside Layer and live a new Jellicle life again. With the recently extended run of Cats The Musical at The Theatre at Solaire, audiences there were privileged to see this "ball" every night, with hundreds of theater fans, cat lovers, and anyone and everyone with a ticket and a hankering for music, dance, and a wonderful show all filling its seats and seeing which lucky cat went on to a new life.
ABS-CBN Lifestyle recently got a look behind the scenes of this award-winning production with Jordan Goff, the musical's stage manager himself. Read on to see the little details and the grand sweeps that went into staging this that make it seem like so much grander an event!
[related: Now Showing: 'Cats The Musical' In Manila Is Your Pre-Christmas Treat!]
The tour began on the stage, which Jordan explained that as a "cat-scaled" set that slopes downwards. This can make it hard for the actors to dance and move around sometimes, he said, but the illusion of seeing them look as small as the cats they play is well worth it! The set, of course, is transferrable from one tour stop to another. It takes them six to eight hours to take everything down, and when they get to a new stage, it takes two to four days for everything to be right in place, detailed Jordan.
All this work in staging the play involves plenty of help from other members of the crew, too, said Jordan. Take this: Even if the orchestral pit is covered up during performances, an eight-piece band always plays the music live backstage, and the cast is conducted through screens attached to the balcony!
The costumes are another piece of work, Jordan stressed. The one below, for example, which Old Deuteronomy (the Jellicle Cats' patriarch), required hand twisting and stitching by hand to complete the braids. The whole costume, he added, tips the scales at 28 kilograms!
Every Lycra suit used in the play, said Jordan, is handmade and designed in London with each cat's different qualities and traits in mind. Conclusion: The detail and work put into the costumes definitely show onstage!
Just as much as the costumes seem to be brimming over with personality, all the props as well have a certain feline touch about them. Jordan summed up that the set designers make sure that every prop looks realistic, like made by real cats using things found in a junkyard. (Say, a cockroach mask!)
It's that kind of creativity in the normal and everyday that perhaps makes Cats The Musical an entirely different world— when we see a car trunk, what is it that a cat (or a Cats set designer!) thinks it could be? It could be a hiding spot for them to pop out of, another stage for them to jump on and off of and dance their hearts out on, or even a train with bicycle spokes for wheels and umbrella handles for axles—and in the hands of people like Jordan behind the scenes, knowing the secrets to their magic doesn't spoil the trick: it only makes it so much more magical.
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Photography by Vyn Radovan