Arts & Culture

Joanna Ampil to Star in the Musical Cats for the Manila Leg of the International Tour

She’ll be belting out "Memory" on a stage near you very soon.
IMAGE IMAGE ATLANTIS THEATRICAL ENTERTAINMENT GROUP/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
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  • Musical theater actress Joanna Ampil will once again take on the role of Glamour Cat 'Grizabella' at the Theatre at Solaire in November 2019.
  • This is the second international staging of Cats in the Philippines after a first tour brought the musical to the Cultural Center of the Philippines in 2010.

The year 2019 is shaping out to be the year of the cat. Manila can now look forward to two cultural events that will celebrate Andrew Lloyd Weber’s hit musical Cats. We can expect the first, a movie adaptation with an all-star cast featuring names like Judi Dench, Ian McKellen, Taylor Swift, and Idris Elba, to hit cinemas by December 20, 2019. The second production is an international tour of Cats starring none other than Filipina musical superstar Joanna Ampil as Grizabella, the Glamour Cat, during the Manila run at the Theatre at Solaire in November.

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More: Production Has Officially Begun on the Cats Movie Starring Taylor Swift and Judi Dench

Ampil is no stranger to playing the Jellicle tribe outcast, as she has mastered Grizabella’s melancholic number “Memory.” Ampil was first chosen for the part in 2012, and has since appeared on the West End stage and in international tours since 2013. This is the first time, however, that Philippine audiences will get to see her in the musical. In a past interview with the Inquirer, Ampil recounts how she first won the role of Grizabella almost a decade ago. She sang the popular track “Memory” for director Chrissie Cartwright and choreographer Gillian Lynne, and midway through the song, tears streamed down her face because she was so moved.

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The musical theater actress has been active since 1993 when crowds first witnessed her portrayal of the vulnerable Vietnamese bar girl Kim in Miss Saigon. The seasoned performer has tackled some of musical theater’s most iconic characters—from the likes of Eponine and Fantine in three different stagings of Les Miserables to Maria in Sound of Music and to Mimi in Rent. We recently saw Ampil in November 2018, when she took the titular role of Jenna in a local production of Waitress.

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More: Waitress Is the Play We All Need Once in a While

Ampil follows in the footsteps of Tony Award winner Lea Salonga, who played Grizabella during the country's first international staging of Cats in 2010 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. Meanwhile, Cats has enjoyed phenomenal success, coming in second on the list of Broadway’s longest-running musicals, right after Phantom of the Opera. It first opened on the West End in 1981 and has since been staged in over 30 countries and attracted some 73 million people worldwide, reports Billboard.

h/t: Theater Fans Manila

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About The Author
Hannah Lazatin
Features Editor
Hannah is originally from Pampanga and from a big, close-knit family who likes to find a reason to get together at the dinner table. Experiences inspire her. “Once, at a restaurant, I received an interpretation of my second name ‘Celina,’ and it meant 'someone who tries everything once' and that is me through and through,” she says. As for the job, she wants her “readers to be inspired by the stories of the people we feature and to move them to reach for greater things.”
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