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Czech Cats in Brno 
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Fresh Face
Fresh Face

Joined: Thu Oct 24, 2013 8:14 am
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Post Czech Cats in Brno
Greetings and salutations! It's been many years I haven't logged here, account got deleted, I don't even remember my old nickname but that doesn't matter :)

I'd like to let you know about production of Cats in the Czech Republic in Brno City Theatre.
I've seen the show many months ago (May 2013), but I still can't stop the feeling that what has been seen cannot be unseen :shock:
Director of this production Stanislav Mosa stated that he is not interested in some furry cat-like actors but instead he wanted to make it more human. So the result is neither cats (due to their look) nor human (due to the lyrics that remained the same as in Prague production from 2004/2005).

One picture is worth thousand words:
Image

You can check theatre's website for more photographs.
There is also Czech Television report from before the opening night: Cats are no longer cats anymore. You can find there a video with samples of the musical numbers and the second video with director's comment about how he wanted to make show more human-like.

But to be honest - musical part is not that bad. If you close your eyes and just listen to the show, you might think that it is quite good production. But once you see what happens on the stage, it ruins everything :(

There are several changes from what (I'd say) is common in modern Cats productions:
- Mungojerrie & Rumpleteazer are in this slow-paced "retro" version: Mungojerrie a Ting Tangl
- Growltiger's Last Stand is replaced by the Aria (never heard that live before): In Una Tepida Notte (beware - audio is overloaded at the end!)
- Grizabella's rebirth is quite literal when she is switched with real small kitten (no stairway to heaven or flying wheel etc.)
- The ad-dressing of Cats is completely ommited

I had this bad luck that I've seen the show twice (although the positive is that I've managed to see most of the alternations). When we were returning from the second visit we've decided that we need to see some PROPER Cats and we have immediately booked tickets to UK tour in Bristol.
This took place last weekend and it was absolutely AMAZING to see Cats after six years (twice) again. Cast was awesome, audience great... And I've enjoyed it even more because I wasn't recording it :D (Well, I've snapped few parts during the second visit with my camera, but no sophisticated audio recording gear -> no stress about breathing/moving/audio overload/crying children/coughing :)). It is quite refreshing to see the show the way as other *normal* visitors do...

But you know... every cloud has a silver lining. If there were no "Cats" in Brno, I would have probably not traveled to UK tour so I am grateful for that :)


Thu Oct 24, 2013 9:57 am
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Post Re: Czech Cats in Brno
Quote:
Grizabella's rebirth is quite literal when she is switched with real small kitten

I like this part, even though you make valid points concerning the rest of this production. And the quote "not interested in some furry cat-like actors" brings up a serious question: "If you change certain elements of a show, does it stay the same?"

Although this quote can be taken out of context, Webber stated that "it's all about cats...." The set was constructed to a 3:1 scale so that we see things from a cat's perspective. The costumes were designed to create an image of a cat. The poetry of TSE was written about cats.... And the title of the musical is CATS. What more does one need? I think if we go along with the director's change of the costume and image of the performers, then the change creates a masquerade party instead of a cat celebration. CATS without "cats" becomes...?

The element that might be changed without hurting the spectacle is the set. As long as the set can be inhabited by feral cats, the concept is viable. My favorite is the attic of an old house. Imagine the wide range of props that the trunks, boxes and stacks could hold?

Does change really hurt a show? I think the answer lies in the effect of the change. Watching a recent production of JC Superstar, and comparing it to the video, the change is the timeframe. The video and certain productions of JCS place the show in the Roman era. However, this tour show places the show in contemporary era. Did it change the image? No. The disciples were ordinary people - some of whom were reactionaries. The Romans were soldiers or policemen in riot gear. Keep everyone roughly in character to their role in the Bible, and the change is negligible.... JCS is still JCS.... Certain Shakespearean productions, such as Romeo and Juliet, can be set in almost any time or even setting, and still maintain its identity. Taking this concept into consideration, I would have been disappointed in this production as well.

Good topic.
Rumblepurr
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Fri Oct 25, 2013 11:20 am
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Fresh Face
Fresh Face

Joined: Thu Oct 24, 2013 8:14 am
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Post Re: Czech Cats in Brno
Rumblepurr, you have hit the nail on its head.
I was also OK with changing the set - Prague production with the attic, Warsaw with the roof (Koty dachowe - Cats from the roof), even the Gothenburg with its amusement park. It always remained to be CATS. And that's what this musical is about, at least for me.
But this version - VIP party for the "cream of the society" where they pretend to be cats -> just a masquerade party - kills the very nature of the show :(


Fri Oct 25, 2013 2:29 pm
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Broadway Legend
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Post Re: Czech Cats in Brno
I could buy the idea of simpler, more "human" costumes that only suggest cats, provided that the actors' movements and body language still clearly conveyed the sense that they were cats. But it doesn't sound like this production does that.


Fri Oct 25, 2013 3:46 pm
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Tony Winner
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Post Re: Czech Cats in Brno
The photos put me in mind of a intimate staged "cabaret" version of the show. How can you do a show about CATS with people just looking like HUMANS! It won't work! So upset about all the versions wanting to change up something that was always superb. Just a little "ticked" off right now. Don't do the show if you can't do it RIGHT! Just venting here...sorry.

Purrs,
VTWC


Sat Nov 02, 2013 8:54 am
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Tony Winner
Tony Winner

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Post Re: Czech Cats in Brno
I agree with you VTWC.


Sat Nov 02, 2013 9:01 am
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Post Re: Czech Cats in Brno
Nothing wrong with being ticked off at the concept. As I stated, CATS without Cats is not CATS... right? The closest deviation that the musical makes is to anthropomorphize the cat into a humanoid (felinoid) version of our furry animals and pets. It would be very difficult to have actual cats portray the characters An animated film might work, but I would question even that. TSE specifically did not want the show turned into a version of Aristocats, or even Tailchaser's Song. If someone did really go after an animated version, I would want the drawings to be almost dark - like a "Batman" piece. However, the graphic novel and animated movie approach would lose one thing - the choreography.... Again, how does the change affect the production as a whole?

I just know that if I went to this production thinking I was going to see CATS, I would walk out of the opening and demand my money back. Even attempting to keep an open mind, this production would not appeal to me.

Rumblepurr
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Mon Nov 04, 2013 10:53 am
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