Actor relishes his Cats role
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.
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.