Dissecting Cats – Where the Media & Dubai Opera Went Wrong

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Cats has just finished its run at the Dubai Opera. Emma, Qassab and I (Phil) saw it, we’ve heard other people’s opinions (both expert and pedestrian), and while it’s not all negative, there are common threads between all the reviews. There were obvious technical faults and issues (e.g. the sound levels).  There were issues with the performances (e.g. shaky dancers, vocals with no power).

Since we’ve already reviewed it, we decided to sit down together to dissect what went wrong with Cats and look at three questions. Check out our video (above the article) to hear our thoughts. Below are a few extra thoughts.

Qassa & Phil talk Cats

Qassab and Phil in thoughtful conversation about Cats at Dubai Opera

Did Cats live up to all the hype?

NO. This was unanimous. While Emma still had a great time, it just didn’t live up to the expectations for any of us.

For all of the marketing dollars pumped into it, the constant barrage of Cats propaganda telling Dubai what an amazing show it is, they did a disservice to themselves in the end. Did they get people through the doors? Yup. But will those people be coming back? Who knows. Many people will still have had a great time, but might be left wondering if this really is the best it gets (note: it’s not.)

My advice to others would be to not use Cats as a gauge. Come out to West Side Story and see if you like that. But don’t give up on theatre and musicals just yet. And hopefully the Dubai Opera will have had time to sort out and test audio levels in the space before then. (This audio issue wasn’t present for Les Miserables, so it might be inherent to this particular production.)

Did the media fairly and accurately cover Cats?

No. Hell no. No no no. Time and time again, we have been shown that media here will typically only cover an event and do it lip service. They don’t usually write reviews. So, when suddenly we saw “reviews” from The National and Gulf News, we thought, “Wow, they’re actually willing to review something. Let’s see.”

Open review. Begin disappointment.

To be fair on The National, Rob Garrett didn’t write just fluff. There were real criticisms there. But the glaring technical issues were not mentioned. Maybe it comes down to creative differences? Maybe it’s just testing the waters, or, maybe he saw a better show?

We have no idea why the Gulf News article was called a review. I guess it gave a perspective from someone who’s never been to the theatre.

At some point in the near future, we are going to assemble a panel to discuss media and criticism in the arts here. Some depth and understanding is needed on this.

Will this help or hurt in bringing more people to the theatre in Dubai?

No idea. We disagree on this point. I could be persuaded either way. I previously made my comments on this in the What to Expect at Cats video.

Just watch our video above to see what we think.

About author
Profile photo of Phil Apaza

Phil Apaza

On and around the stage since age 7, Phil has been on nearly every side of it, both professional and amateur. He has been involved in over 100 productions, from major corporate and government events to playing an on-stage prop in a walk-on role.

Comments
  • Ipshita#1

    January 29, 2017

    Can you please upload all-text reviews? Most people in Dubai are multitaskers and are can’t really take time aside for videos.

    I was also really disappointed by the show. The audio was all over the place, many of the actors were totally disinterested and just going through the paces.
    The Dubai opera has a very high chance of becoming a place where theatre companies try out their understudies.

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