Cool for cats
Nineteen-year-old Sam Marks has performed in Cats, the musical, a couple of hundred times, but his most memorable show was last month in Singapore.
'A whole side of my wig came off during a dance number,' Marks said in a phone call from Singapore, where the Australian troupe Lunchbox Productions has been performing for three weeks.
'I sweat too much,' he explained, adding that he was able to run backstage before anyone noticed a tomcat on stage with only half a mane.
Marks promises to keep his wig on when he flies up to Hong Kong next week to be part of a month-long run of the classic Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, Cats, which will be staged by Lunchbox Productions.
Based on a series of whimsical poems by T.S. Eliot, Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats, the musical is set in a junkyard by moonlight and uses elaborate costumes and enchanting musical numbers to tell bittersweet stories of the Jellicle cats. They may be lowly, but the Jellicle cats are proud. For instance, they each have three names: the first name is given by their human owners, the second name is unique and tailor-made for each cat, and the third name is so private that it is known only by the cat itself.
Debuting in 1981, Cats is the longest-running show in London's theatrical West End and New York City's Broadway.
Marks plays Alonzo, a feisty young feline who helps fight Macavity, a villainous rival feline.
It's a relatively minor role, Marks said, but it is still physically and mentally draining.
'The focus required to get into the Alonzo character is incredible,' he said.
'Alonzo is quite arrogant but elegant. He has a very sensitive, tender side too.'
Despite his tender age, Marks is already an experienced member of the Cats cast.
'I'm old school,' he joked. 'I don't feel like I'm treated differently at all because I've been here two years now. I've basically grown up with this cast.'
But he almost missed the opportunity altogether. Marks was 17 when he reluctantly answered the audition call. Although he had been training at the Conroy Dance Studio in Australia for several years, he was sure he wasn't skilled enough for his first professional show.
'I wasn't even going to audition because I was sure I wasn't right for the show,' he said. 'In the industry Cats is known as an extremely technical ballet, but that's so far from the truth.
'Cats is really about how you interpret the character. You can play your character differently every night.'
Cats will be performed daily (except Sundays) at the Lyric Theatre, HKAPA, from May 15 to June 21. Purchase tickets online at www.hkticketing.com or call 3128 8288.