sunnuntai 20. marraskuuta 2011

Cats - Madách Színház, Budapest, Spring 2010

Cats was fun. It's not my favourite musical ever, but it's a nice feel-good musical and it was enjoyable to see it live on stage. I've never seen the musical before (except the London DVD), but again the Hungarian production seems to be slightly different from the usual style. I think the sets represented the back alley of a theatre, because the garbage bins had lots of decadent stuff in them and there was a big broken chandelier on the stage. It looked like something Firmin and André had thrown away after some unfortunate incident with the Phantom. The chandelier also served as Old Deuteronomy's throne. Géza Egyházi was playing OD and looked like a hairy Moses in big white sneakers. He kept holding his hands up in a very prophetic way when he walked, which after a while started to look funny, but it seemed to belong to the role. His singing was lovely, though, and this was the first time I've actually enjoyed listening to the Finale that usually bores me.

The other cast was great, too. Especially I liked Bustopher Jones / Gus the Theatre Cat. Bustopher was very cultivated, lived in a theatre's carbage bin and seemed to adore things like opera and ballet instead of food. The pirate scene with Gus was amazing, I don't know what did it but I kept staring to the stage half-hypnotized and I still don't know or remember what was actually going on there. The cat actually reminded me of Salieri in the nice Amadeus production I saw a couple of years ago in Finland. Grizabella seemed quite old and had a lovely voice, alto or something like that, and her Memory didn't sound like you had heard it a thousand times before, which is always an impressive achievement. Another Grizabella I saw later wasn't half as good, but I can't remember their names.

I couldn't identify all the cats because some of them sang different parts of songs than what I'm used to. For example, I still don't know which cat was Bombalurina, which Demeter and which Jemima, because the song bits were divided very oddly between three or four female cats. There also seemed to be two Munkustrap-like cats, and two Rum Tum Tuggers. I really liked one of the Bombalurina-Demeter-Jemimas, but I have no idea who the actress was. She kept snuggling with the other Munkustrap, which I believe is Demeter's thing, but I also don't know what's Demeter's name in Hungarian.

So, the production is definitely worth seeing, no matter if you have seen the musical before or not.

Homepage of the production
Photo gallery

1 kommentti:

ilebuda kirjoitti...

I saw The Cats (Macskák) yesterday evening (with pretty annoying relatives), this was second time – i saw it first time around 2005 when i was visiting BP.

Now, i think the basic problem of this musical (like many ALW musicals) is that it lacks depth, to me they appear quite superficial (the same seems to be the case with lot of Broadway musicals). This time it is definitely not because of the text as that is pretty marvelous (and have several levels of meanings), however, somehow ALW makes the text itself to be really secondary in the show. It could be because in reality it is too difficult to be used in musical – at least unless you know it very well. I have been told that the hungarian translation is fantastic, cannot really tell, and even if they had subtitles at least i was not really able to appreciate the poetry too much. Admittedly it is more twenty years that i actually read it so that does not help.

Overall at least for me, all deeper meanings of T S Eliot poetry are pretty much totally missed in the show. Which is a pity.

The production is definitely not new, the version is more or less the same that was done in 1983, two years after the London premiere.

Knowing how much control Really Useful Group has (or at least used to have) on the productions (even the number and type of instruments are strictly defined), i assume that it pretty much reflects 83 UK production. It has been revamped in 2007 to certain degree (e.g. the magnificent train scene), this could be my imagination but i thought orchestration sounded better (more precisely relating to characters) than previous time.

Anyway the sets and costumes are new and definitely an improvement.

The choreography, i suspect is in line with 83 UK version, however, with interesting additional flavour as it was done for Madach by that time head of national ballet and also internationally recognized ballet choreographer Seregi Laszló ( and that is visible, some of parts would are pretty challenging as the amount of grand jetes and fouettes was pretty unusual for musicals; so they – sensibly enough – used real ballet dancers to do the dancing. Otherwise the choreography has more than enough of cat like movements for a year. Revamping it totally would do good for the show. However, it was entertaining enough as dancing goes (with a few scenes being a bit boring).

Overall it is not totally obvious who is who as „all cats look the same in dark”, however, i really enjoyed the show, especially as yesterday the whole group with one or two exceptions were in good shape. One of the male singers had difficult times to keep the rythm in singing (Csutka Istvan??) but otherwise they did very energetic performance. Especially the three main ladies: Bombalurina Détár Enikő, Lengelingéla (Demeter) Kökényessy Ági and Mindlevery (Rumpleteaser) Szilvási Judit did great job – they not only sounded good but looked very nice indeed in their cat costumes. I was tempted to adopt one of them as my pet. :-)

With the exception of this one male singer, they did pretty decent job (it was fun to see Szolnoki Tibor as i just saw him in Csardaskiralynő).

Poor Géza much have his most boring role ever and the direction was a bit strange, however, his singing never fails to satisfy.

Bencze Ilona is tricky case as she looks ideal for the role (you can see the age and maturing charm), but i cannot decide really what i think about her singing. I liked that her voice sounded like she have had a few drinks in her life (having very youngish voice does not really fit the character), however, i still would have preferred Malek Andrea as she sounds usually heavenly. But this again lead to dilemma, whether a cat of her background really would sound anymore heavenly?

Anyway, worth seeing and even managed to forget the company of the pretty annoying relatives. Knowing them, it was an achievement.