Those musical cats are on the prowl again, but they have partly lost their South African purr. The cast of Pieter Toerien and Artscape's production of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Cats left for Taiwan last week and opens in Taipei on Wednesday for five weeks.
They return to Asia after missing out on their Beijing season due to the SARS epidemic. In Taipei, the lead of Grizabella is being performed by an Australian who replaces Silindile Nodangala, who, according to Toerien, asked to leave the show to spend time with her children - "I think she'll go back (for other tours)." Another Australian replaces dancer Grant Puchet, who injured his shoulder.
"We'd prefer to keep it South African," explained Toerien, "but it is such a physical show that when these accidents happen we need replacements fast. We can depend on hundreds of Australians who have performed in Cats. For Scandinavia we will try to get an all-SA cast again. This time we didn't have time." After a month's break, Cats is off to the Nordic countries for two months. Turkey may be on the cards in 2004 apart from "quite a few plans in the melting pot".
There has been a 10% change in cast since this staging premiered in Cape Town in December 2001.