Pon­sonby fe­lines set to prowl the stage

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By JU­LIAN RAETHEL

The claws are out.

Af­ter a decade’s wait, Cats of Pon­sonby is set to make its re­turn to the stage.

The mu­si­cal had been dor­mant for 10 years be­fore com­poser Gary Dav­erne gave the script and score a re­vamp for the April pro­duc­tion.

Cats of Pon­sonby cen­tres around the court­yard of a fic­tional Pon­sonby restau­rant called The Tinned Trout, and tells the tale of some very dif­fer­ent groups of cats whose fates be­come in­ter­twined.

Dav­erne wrote the mu­si­cal with help from col­league Ray Prowse while teach­ing at Glen­field In­ter­me­di­ate School 36 years ago.

It be­came so popular that schools all over the coun­try per­formed it.

But Dav­erne de­cided to take it off the mar­ket 10 years ago, with pop mu­sic partly to blame.

‘‘The kids can’t sing as high th­ese days,’’ he says.

‘‘It’s be­cause of to­day’s mod­ern pop mu­sic; kids can’t sing the same.’’

Dav­erne is a con­duc­tor, direc­tor, com­poser and record pro­ducer who founded the Auck­land Sym­phony Orches­tra in 1975 and holds the ti­tle of Mu­sic Direc­tor Emer­i­tus.

The lat­est ren­di­tion of Cats of Pon­sonby fea­tures a slight change in mu­sic and some mi­nor tin­ker­ing – which will in­cor­po­rate a num­ber of gen­res in­clud­ing hip hop, rock and some cov­ers.

It will also be the first time the mu­si­cal will be per­formed out­side of a school.

‘‘Some par­ents say to me: ’ Wow I re­mem­ber that’,’’ Dav­erne says.

‘‘They were in it 30 years ago and now their 10-year-old is do­ing it.’’

Dav­erne now lives in Herne Bay but got his in­spi­ra­tion from his pre­vi­ous home sub­urb of Pon­sonby, which he fondly re­calls as a great place to dine out.

Annabelle Lon­don, who plays the lead role of Katt, says the crowd will be in for quite a show.

Annabelle is an ex­pe­ri­enced tap dancer and was in the cast of the re­cent pro­duc­tion of An­nie the mu­si­cal.

‘‘Mu­si­cals are pretty much my life now,’’ the 14-year-old says.

‘‘The songs [in Cats of Pon­sonby] are amaz­ing. They’re re­ally in­teres- ting char­ac­ters and the peo­ple have been cho­sen well.’’

Annabelle has been in­volved with the Play­house Theatre since she was 9.

She says that a lot of hard work has gone into the pro­duc­tion.

And the Ruther­ford Col­lege stu­dent says she couldn’t have done it with­out some­one spe­cial in her life.

‘‘My mum has taken me to all the re­hearsals and come to all my shows – she’s re­ally sup­port­ive.’’

Photo: GARY DAV­ERNE

Fe­line fa­ble: John Stephen Dav­erne who plays Tiger and Annabelle Lon­don who plays the lead role of Katt in the mu­si­cal, Cats of Pon­sonby.

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