Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Of Felines & Photos

Meow! CATS The Musical prowls into town this Friday and we were thrilled to have the very suave Munkerstrap and Grizabella the Glamour Cat slide onto our Living Room couch today. Under the fur are Australians Shaun Rennie and Delia Hannah, who were a delight to meow with! 

Joining them was Michael-John Hurney who plays the roles of Bustopher Jones, Tiger Growl and Gus. This veteran thespian also played Jean Valjean in Les Miserables and Pontius Pilate in Jesus Christ Superstar. He's one talented man.

I love musicals - and I've watched quite a few - but believe it or not, I've never caught CATS. The last time this much-loved musical was in town was 16 years ago, so all I can say is "It's about time!" 

I must admit I've never been too captivated by the story. Les Miserables had such a powerful, moving storyline that few musicals have come close for me (save for Rent and Avenue Q), not even Phantom of the Opera. And CATS? Well, it just seemed to me like it was all about a bunch of felines singing & prancing on stage...   

But after hearing from Delia, Shaun and MJ, and learning that this Andrew Lloyd Webber musical was based on a book of poems called Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats (1939) by T.S. Eliot, my curiosity was aroused. A literary heavyweight! Now we're talking... So yes, I'm going!

Felines on our Couch: Michael-John Hurney, 'Munkerstrap' Shaun Rennie and 'Grizabella the Glamour Cat' Delia Hannah.

Now, a riddle for you: What do Cyndi Crawford, MM Lee Kuan Yew, Zhang Ziyi and Richard Gere have in common?

Well, they've all been photographed by our next guest! He's a brilliant photographer who is perhaps as much a celebrity as the celebrities he shoots. And his photos have even made it to the cover of TIME magazine. In fact, his work Bamboo Forest fetched a record US$40,000 at a recent auction at the prestigious Christie's.
We're of course talking about celebrity photographer Russel Wong, whose works will be showcased at the President's Command Performance next Sunday, 19 April, 7.30pm on Ch 5. It's done really tastefully in a musical montage, on gargantuan screens on stage.  

Zooming in & focusing on celebrity photographer Russel Wong.

Russel is a joker. When Stan teased him by asking if he'd be singing at the event, since it's a 'musical' montage, he says of course! And goes on to list some songs he'll be belting out. But you quickly see how he creates rapport. "Trust is important," he says, of putting subjects at ease. "I build that by treating them as equals; I don't behave like a fan boy."

And dig this: Russel does extensive research on each subject he shoots, even who they are dating - present and past - just to fully understand them. I guess that's what sets him apart and makes him a cut above the rest. There's so much we can learn from him. I guess for one, I need to learn how to be less of a fan girl around him! *chuckle*

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