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‘Cats’ continues Asia tour with Joanna Ampil as Grizabella

By Margaux Pangilinan Published Oct 02, 2020 3:58 am

Despite the pandemic, hit musical Cats opens its Asia tour in Seoul, South Korea with Joanna Ampil as the glamour cat, Grizabella.

This year has been quite a sad one for everyone who loves musical theater. Broadway and West End theaters are closed. Even here in the country, many of the musicals that were scheduled to run this year are either canceled or postponed until further notice.

However, despite the numerous cancellations of theater productions worldwide, the Asia tour of the hit Andrew Lloyd-Webber musical, Cats opened in Seoul earlier last month, beating the odds and proving to the world that “the show must go on.”

Joanna Ampil is one of the most iconic theater actresses here in the Philippines and in the United Kingdom. She also played Grizabella in the Manila run of Cats at The Theatre at Solaire from November to December in 2019 and its previous international productions over the years.

Joanna Ampil as Grizabella.

She is known for playing the role of Kim in Miss Saigon in the West End. She also played other unforgettable musical roles like Mary Magdalene in Jesus Christ Superstar, Eponine and Fantine in Les Miserables, Maria in West Side Story, Jenna Hunterson in Waitress, and Maria Rainer in The Sound of Music.

Cats will be showing up to November 8 at the Charlotte Theater in Eastern Seoul, South Korea. Strict health and safety protocols are put in place to ensure the audience is safe while enjoying this musical classic.

In a video posted by Universal Music Korea, Ampil expressed that she is ecstatic to play Grizabella for the musical’s fans in Korea, especially in these challenging times, “There is never a day I wake up and not feeling grateful because I am so extremely grateful, particularly to all our Korean fans, because you are the reason why we are here.”

She also shared that aside from singing the timeless song Memory, the dance solo that she does before the end of Act 1 is also something that she loves doing while playing the musical’s glamour cat. Although it wasn’t the easiest, it will always remind her of the late Gillian Lynne, who helped her interpret that dance the best way that she can. Lynne was recognized for being the original choreographer of Cats and the other Andrew Lloyd Webber blockbuster musical, The Phantom of the Opera.

Millions around the world have seen Cats since its first-ever premiere on May 11, 1981, at the New London Theatre (now the Gillian Lynne Theatre) in the UK. It will be celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2021. A movie adaptation of the musical premiered December 2019 which received mostly negative reviews, especially from the musical’s long-time fans.

Although faced with hurdles related to the current COVID-19 pandemic, Cats has proved to the world that “Theater will live again.” Taking the challenge and giving hope to the theater industry that sooner or later, more theater doors will open to the public very soon.

(Images from Universal Music Korea/Cats Official Korea website)