You know you've been to the stage door of a show too many times when you end up taking photographs with the tour's company manager!! But come on, he's Steve Diamond! This man is a legend! I remember him from the 25th Anniversary Tour, and I couldn't resist talking to him when I saw him at stage door. After all, returning to Nottingham to see Cats again for the first time since the tour's cast change brought back a lot of memories of being at the Nottingham Concert Hall back in 2007 for the Anniversary Tour's cast change day. And one of those memories of that day? The cast's traditional mischievous final matinee antics, including changing Gus the Theatre Cat's 'real name' to being Steve Diamond! 'Did that they really do that?!' Joel Morris (Carbucketty) asked, wide-eyed at that cast's boldness, as I mentioned this at stage door the first night, and Steve Diamond rolled his eyes: 'Yes. They did.' I think he was long-suffering with that cast!
As ever the show itself was brilliant and I was in tears by the end of it all - eventually it shall all be written up properly in the Nottingham Concert Hall page for the 2013-2014 tour cast, but for now, I will say that, perhaps the highlight of my first night watching the show again was when the new Rum Tum Tugger picked me to dance with him during his song. As he twirled me round and then guided me back to my seat, he asked confidently 'Who's your favourite cat?' - not expecting me to unapologetically reply 'Um...Carbucketty!' - the look on his face was classic! 'Carbucketty, she says!' he retorted, looking back over to the stage. And just over his shoulder, my lovely CB Joel Morris was just about managing not to laugh outright, though he was grinning widely and was no doubt at least a little smug! At stage door later, Tugger (Filippo Strocchi) recognised me - he came out just as I was talking to Joel - and he went 'Carbucketty?! Really?!' playfully, no doubt enjoying teasing Joel a little more. Joel was so sweet and funny, airily going 'Of course!' and waving his hand fake-dismissively, and I shot back 'If you ask me my favourite cat, you're going to get an honest answer!' before telling him, with a wink, that I felt that Tugger needed an ego check every now and again and he sportingly winked back at me. I later got the chance to talk to him properly and he couldn't resist telling Grizabella when she came out 'She's the one - I pulled her up to dance and I asked her her favourite cat and she goes 'Carbucketty'' and Grizabella found it very funny - I get the impression word had spread quickly about the incident amongst the cast! The next night he managed to appear when I was talking to Joel yet again - he saw who I was with and gave a little mock roll of his eyes! Upstaged by a kitten...again!!! hehe
The first night I stuck mostly to talking to Dawn Williams (now playing Rumpleteazer) and of course Joel (my lovely CB) as I wasn't fully confident I was ready to risk making guesses as to who was who amongst the new cast members. But night two I made sure to take my courage in my hands and I successfully identified a full house of the people I wanted to see; Adam Lake - the fantastic, hilarious, acrobatic Alonzo whose Rumpus Cat has me in stitches, Adam Salter the new adorable Bill Bailey with a mischievous streak, and Cassie Clare, who is in fact the new Cassandra, but I was lucky enough to see her take a fiery and fabulous star turn as Bombalurina and let me tell you, gorgeous does not even cover it...think Rosemarie Ford in the DVD cast and then times that by a thousand and put a cherry on top. I told her as much and she seemed so happy and excited to hear it, I think I may have made her night! I love giving credit to fierce understudies like her - they never get nearly enough credit for the shifts they put in and the performances they turn out!
So now it's no more Cats until Llandudno for me - by which time there will be even more new faces to see! But I'm definitely looking forward to seeing these newbies again. Alonzo was so appreciative, and Dawn was kind enough to pop up as I was talking to Bill Bailey; 'Carbs, Jemima and Bill are her favourites' so he was very happy about that. And like I say, Cassie Clare was just over the moon that I liked her performance. They're a sweet bunch and they're soooo talented, really bringing out some new things in the roles which I loved.
More to follow when I eventually type up all the stage door reports, but for now, just know that you should be getting yourself down to see these talented guys! Cats is still touring the UK until the end of the year and this bunch are super-sweet and super-talented. Remember: it's not all about Grizabella and Mistoffelees! The other Cats are funny, fantastic, fierce and hard-working and they don't get nearly enough recognition, so go ahead and make an under-appreciated actor's day with a cheer or a compliment at stage door! It'll pay off - you'll get stage door hugs and love in return that way and you get to remind an actor that, even on bad days, it matters what they're doing out there.