Posts Tagged With: Macao

Cats Macao – Curtain Call

Two and a half weeks away and just 13 performances and my Cats experience was over. Short and sweet and just enough knee pain.

I have to say performing in the show was every bit of magic I remembered minus the South African audience, which did make a difference. Although any audience gives me a buzz, when I did the show last time, on home turf, it was so exciting because I never knew who might be watching so it gave me that bit of extra energy each time. I was reminded of this when my husband and his business partner came to watch on our last matinée. I probably over-performed but it was fun knowing that there were at least one set of eyes on me at all times. What can I say, performers love attention 🙂

Act II

Act II

Another downside to my brief stay was not having enough time to truly bond with the cast. Many of them had toured with the show for a year and you could really see and feel the camaraderie on stage. From working on two international productions, I can say that theatre people, regardless of home country, are some of the craziest and friendliest in the world and I would have relished getting closer to this particular group of people. They were so welcoming and sweet and great with baby Ayla.

Silli and Vicky

Silli and Vicky

Out of costume - Cassandra, Silli, Tanto and Vicky

Out of costume – Cassandra, Silli, Tanto and Vicky

Mistoffelees and Victoria

Mistoffelees and Victoria

Me and Olivia

Me and Olivia

Tumble, Tanto, Vicky and George

Tumble, Tanto, Vicky and George

After the final show we were treated to a closing party at the Bellini Lounge, a casino bar with live music and burlesque-clad waitresses. The music was fantastic and we danced the night away to some great classics and golden oldies. My feet hated me but I pushed through, I mean, how often do moms get to let their hair down!

Earl Gregory AKA Tugger

Earl Gregory AKA Tugger

Closing night party

Closing night party

While the rest of the cast was due to continue to Korea, I had opted out of the tour, which had many of them asking what my plans were for when I got home. It was then that I could finally reveal to the cast the news I had kept secret. The fact that I was 14 weeks pregnant!

The reaction of the cast members was overall shock (“OMG I lifted you pregnant!”) …followed by congratulations. So I guess it was the right decision not to tell them about it during the contract but it was awesome to finally share the news.

I actually knew about my pregnancy before I left South Africa. After taking the necessary contractual precautions I went ahead with the contract because I had danced while pregnant before and the three-week commitment was short enough for me to feel comfortable with the physical demands of the show. And it was all fine. I saw a gyne in Macao for the crucial 12-week scan where they do an ultrasound and take blood to rule out certain complications and in fact, I felt less of the awful morning sickness and fatigue while away than when I was at home. I think being busy and having something big to keep my mind occupied were the best pregnancy blues busters ever.

Media Call - "statistical cats"

Media Call – “statistical cats”

So what is next for me? As I am writing this I am 16 weeks along and already showing slightly, so I guess any big dance contracts are out of the question. Teaching is on the cards and I have joined forces with some exciting people but actually I am thinking about doing something completely different. Maybe it will be choreographing, maybe a 9-5, maybe moving to China with my husband. I don’t know yet but what I would like to do is fill in the blanks on this blog. All those adventures I had while traveling and touring Asia with Phantom of the Opera, those memories need to be captured before I forget about them completely.

Well its goodbye to Cats, maybe forever, maybe just for now. I am so grateful I got to do it again and add to my fond memories, my friends list and my bank account. So until next time, here’s to an exciting 2015, filled with adventure, change and a healthy dose of uncertainty.

Vicky touches Grizabella

Vicky touches Grizabella

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Cats Macao – Curtain Up

There comes a point in every rehearsal period when it’s time to put all the hard work before a live audience. After just 6 rehearsal days, that point was a bit too soon for my liking. It’s not that I wasn’t ready but we only had one dress run and it didn’t go too well, especially the costume quick changes. But in showbiz there is a superstition that if you have a bad dress run it means you will have a good opening and vice versa.

Addressing of Cats

Addressing of Cats

Girls upstage

Girls upstage

Well opening arrived and whether I liked it or not I found myself standing in the auditorium about to run through the audience and scare them with our “green eyes”. It’s actually one of my favourite parts of the show. The audience hears the overture, it’s dark and all of a sudden they see a flash of green cat eyes right up in their faces. On a good night we will get some screams…hehehe.

Vicky's Solo

Vicky’s Solo

Old Deuteronomy

Old Deuteronomy

Back on stage and just before my first entrance from the car boot I usually say a quick prayer asking for a good, safe show and that sort of thing. Being older and wiser, in my prayer this time around I asked for just one thing – to have fun. One thing I have learnt over the years as a performer is that when I get too caught up in the technicalities and worry about achieving perfection, I actually don’t perform well. I’m overly nervous and unfocused. The best thing I can do for myself is just let go and remember why I love performing and then just go with the flow. It’s impossible to have a perfect show so why ask for that?

Vicky's first time at the Jellicle Ball

Vicky’s first time at the Jellicle Ball

Sensual Section

Sensual Section

This is a lesson I vow to pass onto my children with whatever they do in life. They should let their instincts guide them. If they take up something that makes them miserable instead of happy and fulfilled then they should quit it.

Vicky's Solo

Vicky’s Solo

Vicky's Solo

Vicky’s Solo

Vicky's Solo

Vicky’s Solo

The opening performance came and went without a hitch and the double show weekend that followed was tough but, as with everything in life, it passed and the following week was much better.

The Ball

The Ball

The Ball

The Ball

For a start, Monday was a day off and it’s amazing how quickly the body recovers through rest. Aches and pains I thought would grow into injuries disappeared and everything became manageable. Also, I had no understudy calls which meant that even on show days, I only had to be at the theatre at 6:30 for an 8pm show. With an entire day, everyday to relax and explore Macao I certainly couldn’t complain.

Backstage

Backstage

Macao is an interesting place. It’s called the Vegas of the East and for good reason. Huge casino hotels dominate the landscape and while beautiful and opulent, do not really count as sightseeing “attractions” in my mind. I guess at the end of the day if you’ve seen one casino you’ve seen them all so I wasn’t overly keen to explore the famous Taipa strip. Modelled to look like the Vegas strip, Cotai Central joins the famous Venetian, which housed our theatre to the Holiday Inn, our hotel The Conrad and countless other restaurants, gaming centres and designer boutiques so that we literally didn’t have to step foot outside into fresh air for our entire trip. Not really my cup of tea.

On the bridge connecting Cotai Central to the Venetian

On the bridge connecting Cotai Central to the Venetian

Speaking of warm beverages, we did make our way out to Taipa Village, a quaint little section of market-style stores and coffee shops surrounded by some very colourful colonial style buildings. I loved the way Eastern-style stores and Wester-European architecture combined perfectly to create such interesting surroundings.

Colonial Buildings

Colonial Buildings

Taipa Village

Taipa Village

Store Front

Store Front

Farther afield, across the pond, is Old Macao Island. This area was one of the first Portuguese settlements and is over 400 years old so has some great old buildings and landmarks. I didn’t explore them this tour because I came to Macao about a year before and visited the historic Ruins of Saint Paul and the beautiful Senado Square then. Walking through those areas with their cobbled roads, street side cafes and Portuguese signage, you would be forgiven for thinking you were somewhere in Europe.

Senado Square

Senado Square

Ruins of St Paul

Ruins of St Paul

At the end of the day what I really enjoyed was spending time with my husband and baby in a new environment. Sometimes the monotony of home becomes too much, especially with a baby so it was great to have a break from all that but still have something really challenging to get through everyday. I found myself looking forward to each performance and it was great seeing the cast members relax into their roles.

Me and the Rum Tum Tugger

Me and the Rum Tum Tugger

Exhausted after the Ball

Exhausted after the Ball

In my next post I’ll reflect on the overall experience and share some amazing news for the near future…

 

 

 

 

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Cats Macao – The Rehearsals

I can say with absolute confidence that I was not in my best shape when accepting the offer to do Cats again. The last time I performed in Cats was 5 years ago and the last time I performed on stage was almost a year and a half ago. Add a pregnancy into the mix, and, well, need I say more.

But never one to turn down a challenge, I took the bull by the horns and did what needed to be done. My first attempt at re-teaching myself the choreography I had completely forgotten was by watching clips from YouTube. This bright idea was obviously a waste of time so I contacted my earlier Cats dance captain to see if she had a better memory of the moves than I did.

I was in luck and she agreed to work with me a few days a week in an old squash court until I had relearnt most of the show. I decided to focus on just the main dance numbers and leave the rest for the 6 days of rehearsals scheduled for Macao. Until then it was up to me to work by myself to get my fitness levels back to a reasonable level and the felinity of a cat back into my body.

Then suddenly my time was up and I found myself in Macao on my way to day one of rehearsals. From 9am to 6pm. With the Joanne Robinson. Great stuff. To say I was scared is a vast understatement. Then again, there were other new cast members who probably felt the same way. Although they did have 2 days of rehearsals in Sydney learning the entire show in its most up-to-date form.

What happens is each time Cats is launched in a new country a million tiny details are refined and changed so that the version I learnt 5 years ago was completely different to the current one. Where I used to be placed upstage right I was now downstage left and so on. Add to that the non-dance numbers I had decided not the learn and there were moments of me being dragged, quite literally, around the room by fellow performers – a great bonding experience.

After 3 full days we had run the entire show. That’s the whole 2.5 hour production in just 3 days. Surprisingly my body was feeling alright despite a few niggles in the obvious knees, back and hamstrings so I was quite proud of myself.

Then we moved to the stage and the hours got longer. 12 noon to 10pm. Although I had worked by myself, it’s one thing dancing around a squash court by yourself and quite another working on a huge stage with 20 other performers. Watching your spacing and timing, perfecting costume quick changes and maintaining your character throughout the show all take their toll on the body.

I had also forgotten how much time my character, Victoria, spends on her knees. Being a kitten, she is never in a standing position unless it is one of the big dance numbers. Also she never leaves the stage, she is in every number. This is a very different experience to Phantom of the Opera where the ballet dancers are only in 4 numbers so there are up to 45 minutes of off-stage time to relax.

Thankfully we had a fantastic physiotherapist at our disposal and massages at the hotel spa but despite all this, by the end of day 6 I could barely stand up straight. In fact, while I am sure in my 12-year dance career I have experienced extreme pain, I seriously could not remember ever feeling that sore. My knees were broken, my lower back felt like it had a metal rod instead of a spine and my hip flexors woke me in the middle of the night.

But as any performer will tell you, it was worth it! I love rehearsals. It’s so satisfying to feel yourself get fitter and stronger and perfect the work. 5 years ago I had 5 weeks of rehearsals, in Macao, just 6 days. But in those 6 days I had gone from mildly fit with a vague idea of what I was doing to being show ready and feeling very much like my pre-pragnancy self. Well, almost.

After the longest week of my life we were one day away from Opening. For me it was a true test of character. After leaving Phantom I thought I would never set foot on stage again and there I was about to perform in an extremely challenging show so dear to my heart. And I couldn’t wait to feel that magic feeling when you are on stage with an audience…

Next time, Curtain Up!

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Cats Macao – The Arrival

After more than a year away from performing thanks to baby Ayla – the sparkling new addition to my family –  I finally got a chance to return to the stage to perform in Macao in my favourite show of all time, Cats.   I performed in the famous Andrew Lloyd Webber musical five years ago and since then I don’t think a day has passed where I didn’t think about that special time in my life. What can I say, Cats is a show like that boyfriend you just can’t get over.

Cats Musical Logo

So there I was in Macao, or the Vegas of the East, with my baby girl, a nanny friend and later, my husband. It’s quite poetic that Ayla turned one on the very day I arrived to my first “job” in a year. Being a full-time mom this past year has been incredibly rewarding but certainly has had its ups and downs and I was very excited to be heading back into the world of work.

Baby Ayla at 8 months

Baby Ayla at 8 months

From the moment I arrived I felt very spoilt. Firstly, I managed to scrape together every one of my voyager miles and upgraded to business class (which was absolutely necessary as a mom travelling alone with a baby), then the amazing Cats company organised me a car to get me from the ferry to the hotel and then I scored the most incredible hotel room I think I’ve ever been in. I mean, my shower was so big it had its own corner bench!

The shower

The shower

The Conrad Hotel, our home for the 3 week contract, was super accommodating. It’s not easy travelling with a baby and while most hotels provide a crib, there they actually provided a baby bath as well and a complimentary box of baby products. So thoughtful.

Complimentary baby products

Complimentary baby products

Even the room service menu seemed to cater to babies. In the kiddies menu besides the usual fish fingers and hotdogs were pureed vegetables, which came in a plastic baby bowl with baby spoon and knife. These might sound like silly little things but they make a big difference in my books.

So after a 13 hour flight, 2 hours waiting for a ferry and a 1 hour ferry ride from Hong Kong to Macao, I can say that the arrival went as smoothly as I could have hoped for with a 1-year-old. Thankfully I had one more day to relax and get my nanny friend, Avril re-acquainted with Ayla before rehearsals started the following day.

Ayla and I basically chilled that first evening and after a few laps up and down the corridor in her pram, she was asleep, allowing me to indulge in whatever rubbish reality TV was on…ah bliss.

Stay tuned for my next post on The Rehearsals…

 

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