Ac­tor rel­ishes his Cats role

Central Leader - - News - By Jo­ce­lyn Rein

A dancer is brush­ing up on his cat’s meow as he takes on the most chal­leng­ing role of his ca­reer.

Clin­ton Me­ne­ses says when he leaps on to the stage at the Civic The­atre for An­drew Lloyd Web­ber’s Cats next month it will be his most vo­cal role ever.

He is usu­ally a dancer only and was sur­prised to be given the char­ac­ter of love­able ras­cal Mun­go­jer­rie, who sings a duet in the show as well.

But he is tak­ing it all in his stride and hopes the role will open more doors into singing and act­ing.

“I’ve had a nat­u­ral singing voice all my life,” he says.

Orig­i­nally from South Africa, Clin­ton has been per­form­ing pro­fes­sion­ally for most of his life and has ap­peared in pro­duc­tions of Je­sus Christ Su­per­star and Evita and also spent four years with the Cape Town City Bal­let.

He was part of an in­ter­na­tional tour of Cats in 2002 but had a solely dance-based role as Rum­pus­cat.

He says this time around it’s much more chal­leng­ing to main­tain the high-en­ergy, fe­line dance moves while belt­ing out a tune.

“There’s no such thing as re­lax­ing on stage.

“They’re not easy move­ments to be hit­ting high notes with,” Clin­ton says.

It was dance that first brought him to New Zealand in 2007 as part of the cast of We Will Rock You and he re­turned here to live last Au­gust.

He says it’s no easy task try­ing to break into the the­atre scene in New Zealand, with most of the ma­jor pro­fes­sional pro­duc­tions us­ing in­ter­na­tional casts.

So he says it was a pleas­ant sur­prise to see his face, al­though barely recog­nis­able, on dis­play on the huge pro­mo­tional poster hang­ing at the front of the Civic.

It’s the first time the mu­si­cal has re­turned to Auck­land in 14 years and di­rec­tor Grant Meese says the set – straight from the re­cent sea­son in Welling­ton - is sec­ond-to-none.

More than 150 New Zealand per­form­ers au­di­tioned for parts in the cov­eted pro­duc­tion and Mr Meese says the tal­ent in the show ri­vals that of any­where in the world.

“We are priv­i­leged to have such tal­ent in­volved in this pro­duc­tion.

“Let’s cel­e­brate what we have right on our doorstep,” he says.

Tina Cross and Shane Cortese will head­line the show, ap­pear­ing as Griz­abella and The Rum Tum Tug­ger.

Cats opens at the Civic on June 6.

Tick­ets start from $60 and are avail­able from www.the-edge.co.nz.

Photo: JA­SON OX­EN­HAM

Cat call: Clin­ton Me­ne­ses stars as Mun­go­jer­rie in Cats, open­ing at the Civic next month.

Fe­line fun: Clin­ton Me­ne­ses gets into char­ac­ter for his role in Cats.

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