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Luitingh keeps Cats calls coming

Published Oct 9, 2003

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Anton Luitingh is only 27 but already he is becoming something of a showbiz veteran through his ongoing performance as the control pussy, Munkustrap, in Pieter Toerien's touring production of the Lloyd Webber musical, Cats - and via other irons he has in the fire.

Right now he is in daytime rehearsal for the next leg of the Cats tour to Scandinavia. The company flies out on October 23 and will perform in Stockholm, Gothenberg and Helsinki for a month.

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Then Anton will have a break in London and catch a few shows before returning to Cape Town for a couple of days before embarking on the Qatar leg of the Cats tour. And now there's the prospect of touring to Turkey in January.

It is just as well Anton is known for his energy, for though he is now rehearsing Cats by day, he is performing with Paul du Toit and Lindy Abromowitz by night in the return season of Offbeat Broadway 3 at the Theatre on the Bay.

Too, he was recently musical director of the children's holiday show, Winnie the Pooh, directed by Cheryl Abromowitz,

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mother of Lindy Abromowitz.

It doesn't stop there. The hunky Stellenbosch University-trained singer-actor recently auditioned for the role of Raoul, the romantic lead in Toerien's coming production of the Lloyd Webber musical, The Phantom of the Opera, which opens in the Artscape Opera House in April.

If he lands that plum part, he will be the second former Rondebosch Boys' High School pupil to sing the role in a major production. First to do so was UCT-trained singer-actor Robert Finlayson who sang Raoul in the West End production.

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A more practical if not vain consideration is that if Anton is cast as Raoul, audiences will see him in all his youthful handsomeness, for as Munkustrap he is hidden under feline make-up.

But Anton thinks ahead too. He told me he would love to progress to singing the title role in Phantom in, say, 10 years' time when the musical work "reaches a plateau".

Success has come quickly for Anton, whom I first saw in his varsity days playing the lead in an Afrikaans version of the Noel Coward play, Blythe Spirit.

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Anton is quite at home with living out of suitcases in hotels around the world. He is, however, a little wary of the affect of travel on his voice.

He is uneasy with the climate in the East. The humidity is one thing but the air-conditioned hotel rooms present a problem of their own, for air-conditioning can constrict the voice. An important consideration for Anton, for in Cats the Munkustrap character, effectively the master of kitty ceremonies, needs to be in fine voice at all times.

Asked whether there have been any memorable, dicey moments on the overseas tours with Cats, Anton immediately recalled the tour to the Lebanon where they performed in the open air. A light mist set in and made the stage floor slippery, the omnipresent resin boxes in the wings notwithstanding. Fortunately, there were no serious mishaps.

He laughed as he recalled that here and there a male dancer would forget to bring along his dance belt - ballet dancers tend to call it a jack belt - necessitating the wearing of boxer shorts which didn't quite stop dangly bits from flopping about.

The sad aspect of touring was that the cast seldom got to see much of the countries they were visiting. "You don't get a feel of the country," he reflected.

The tour to Shanghai was one leg he missed out on as he was committed to the return here of Offbeat Broadway 3, so an Australian performer replaced him.

And the audiences?

"They've been great," he enthused. "Especially the Koreans. They showered as with gifts of sweets and statuettes. It was like being at a pop concert."

Reflecting on Cats, he added: "I always wanted to be in a big musical." So just look at him now!

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