Purr-fect vehicle for top choreographer
or choreographer Teesh Szabo, CATS is the ultimate dance show. Teesh has been working the principals and ensemble for the last few weeks, turning them purrr-fectly into graceful and slinky cats for Abbey Musical Theatre’s production at the Regent on Broadway from August 12 to 27.
Teesh, an Auckland-based choreographer, dance educator and actor, is herself a puss with a purrpuss.
CATS is hugely challenging because the cast dance as well as sing and act throughout the show with very little time off stage and have to demonstrate a level of fitness, agility and energy that the All Blacks would admire.
‘‘ CATS is every dancer’s dream show as it challenges and pulls on their traditional dance training as well as voice and acting ability,’’ she says.
Teesh has worked in major shows in London’s West End and shared the London Palladium stage with such dance and theatre greats as Chita Rivera, Tommy Tune, Cyd Charisse and Russ Tamblyn but, when Abbey Musical Theatre (AMT) approached her to choreograph CATS, she didn’t hesitate to ‘‘jump at the chance.’’
She had already taken dance to a new level of precision and performance when she choreographed MAMMA MIA! for AMT last year.
‘‘The beauty of CATS compared to many others is that there’s no divide between leads and ensemble which can be quite obvious in many shows. Every performer has a character name and, as an audience member, you’ll find yourself coming away with a favourite.’’
Teesh believes CATS is a much loved and ageless show and is not subject to the period when it was first written by Andrew Lloyd Webber. But CATS is more than a spectacular dance show. It’s based on T S Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats. On a particular night a tribe of cats, the Jellicles, decide which cat will ascend to the Heaviside Layer and return in a new life.
That’s the story that Teesh and the musical’s co-directors are committed to telling.
AMT’s CATS, co-directed by Barry Jones and Gillian Collett and choreographed by Teesh Szabo Regent on Broadway, August 12-27. Bookings: Ticket Direct 0800-224-224 or contact www.ticketdirect.co.nz
CATS dancers demonstrate a movement for choreographer Teesh Szabo, kneeling, far right.