Simon Pryce with Inner West locals Allegra Mok and Holly Simon. Photo: Grant Leslie

Posted by & filed under Arts & Entertainment, Theatre & Performance.

It’s the theatrical sensation that packs a purr. The musical Cats can never seem to stray from the spotlight for long, and it now returns to Sydney with a new take from Packemin Youth Productions.

Defying all the warnings about working with children or animals (well, animal themes), the massive cast of 120 performers includes three litters of 30 “kittens” (actors as young as six-years-old) who will alternate performances, with a talented main cast of youth performers who are all under 20-years-old – with one notable exception.

The current Red Wiggle himself, Simon Pryce joins the cast as the Jellicle cats’ wise and respected leader, Old Deuteronomy, and the opulent Bustopher Jones.

From day one I’ve been incredibly impressed, I continue to be, and I’m just thrilled to be a part of it,” Pryce told City Hub of his involvement. “I love The Wiggles and I love what I do, but it’s also an opportunity to do something different…it’s nice to get to sing some different material, and to be part of another company and to work with some younger adults who are wanting to learn the craft and just be part of that process.”

Pryce says “audiences will be very satisfied with a fully-fledged production of Cats” featuring completely new choreography and staging, a fresh design concept involving scaffolds and a giant moon-come-clock, and atmospheric lighting effects.

This opportunity is somewhat of a homecoming for Pryce, Cats was a huge part of his pre-Wiggles life. He has toured South Korea with an Australian production of Cats which was performed in a big top circus tent in all weather, from “40 degree heat [to] minus 17 and snow”. “We use to have to wear gumboots to our entrance…it [the conditions] wasn’t too crash hot with the cats’ little ballet slippers,” laughed Pryce. He also went on to tour with a South African production (Pieter Toerien Productions), which toured places as far flung as China, Taiwan and Athens.

Pryce considers himself lucky to have found the wiggle-room to join this production (he will be juggling Cats with intensive filming and recording ahead of The Wiggles’ next world tour) and speaks with great praise for Packemin Productions and producer Neil Gooding. He says the company have provided a wonderful opportunity not only for himself, but for some amazing young performers to learn and work on a high-quality production. (AM)

Jan 13–28, varied performance times. The Concourse, 409 Victoria Ave, Chatswood. $39.25-$47.45 (Family pass $147.85). Tickets & info: www.packemin.com.au