So I am sitting backstage right now during our fourth performance in Daegu, and so far it seems that audiences in Korea are just as warm as promised. My first indication of this came on a submitted publicity form, which indicated that there would be an autograph signing session with the ‘Mania Fans’. I assumed that this was an error in translation – maybe they meant media? But our local producer confirmed that no, in fact, they were indeed Mania Fans – fans who were so devoted to CATS that it was likely they would meet us at the airport with huge blown-up headshots of the cast and gifts (as happened the last time CATS came to Korea). They also were notorious in the previous season for dividing into two separate factions, which took to competing with each other at the show as to who could cheer loudest, to the point where the actors couldn’t hear anything and had to go onto one of the groups’ websites to beg them to stop the competition.
One of these groups was lead by a girl with the unfortunate nickname of ‘Chub’ (apparently Koreans are not very P.C. about weight issues), who had come to every single performance of the prior season, until her one hundredth performance, when the producers gave her a golden ticket allowing her free access, at which point she began giving a present to a different cast member every night. Well, I’m not sure the ticket still works, but she was here opening night, and promised to follow the show while it’s here. And every night we are guaranteed wild cheers after Tugger (although that’s usual, especially since our Tugger, back from his foot injury, is the perfect, alpha male, sexy-in-human (or cat) form, crush object) , in addition to clapping along to other numbers, cheers after many, and a collision between Mr. Mistofellees and an usher every night so far (this has nothing to do with the warmth of the fans, though). Also, there has been another unexpected perk, in that most nights some fan will give our Old Deuteronomy, a Korean local (although according to him this earns him less respect than the Aussies), a box of doughnuts or some other baked goods, which he inevitably passes around on the bus.
Ah yes, the bus. I realized that I didn’t mention this in the previous post – our mode of transportation whilst in Korea is what was always referred to as the ‘Cats bus’, which I, foolishly, thought meant the bus that transports the cats. Well, yes and no – what was actually meant by ‘Cats bus’ is a bus that transports the Cats, but which is also covered with pictures of the Cats, as well as the logo, and even has the giant yellow eyes on the front of the bus. So it’s pretty identifiable – I was joking with some of the cast that we could never bend or break any traffic laws here. It’s also a hoot to watch from, inside, people react to seeing a giant black bus with eyes rolling down the street. Not as fun as watching the ushers react to Old Deuteronomy in costume in the lobby (his favorite is sneaking up right behind whoever has their back to him and then waiting until they turn around), but still, pretty fun.