What It Takes To Be A Cat

BY Alexandra Venison / Jan 22 2017 / 18:23 PM

Wowing audiences at Dubai Opera night after night, Bazaar speaks to lead performer Joanna Ampil

What It Takes To Be A Cat

It’s the record breaking, award winning musical that has taken both the West End and Broadway audiences by storm, so it comes as no surprise that Cats has enchanted audiences at the Dubai Opera as well. What makes the performance so magical is of course the performers. Hailing from across the globe Bazaar speaks to heavily acclaimed music performer Joanna Ampil who plays lead character Grizabella, on what it takes to be a Cat.

 The Performers Wigs Backstage 

Waking up…

On a good day I usually wake up at around 9 or 10am.

I never ever go out without using sunscreen on my face. I use Neutrogena sunblock because it's not too oily. I also use eye cream that contains Vitamin K to prevent any dark circles.

As soon as I wake up, I drink lemon water or if I have apple cider vinegar I have a tablespoon of that in a cup of water. Lately, I’ve also been drinking a lot of green tea and water to stay hydrated.


Doing theatre work is something I’m really passionate about and I’m very fortunate to be here. I try to keep learning and challenging myself hence getting into movies or doing recordings which is another passion of mine. I love watching other shows too and I enjoy seeing magic onstage. It inspires me to see other artists in their element and makes me realise how lucky I am to be doing the same.

Backstage At Cats

We usually start rehearsing 6 to 8 weeks prior to the show. Then on a show day we will warm up an hour before it’s about to begin. We do our physical warm up followed by our vocal warm up, then I retouch my make-up which I apply before everything else.

Show Time…

Upon hearing Jellicle Balll played at a concert once, I just had to find out which show it came from. I watched Cats and fell in love with the show and the songs.  I was a teenager when I saw it and I knew I’d be too young to play Grizabella then, but I always had my eye on that part. After having played the part, it still remains a favourite of mine. Being part of the show made me fall in love with it much more.

For me to apply my full Cat make-up it takes about 45 minutes to one hour.

I ensure I have a lot of me time when the show is running. I get to focus a lot before I have to go onstage which makes it easier for me to get into the zone and helps me to get to the necessary emotional state I need to be in.

Performers In Their Cats Costumes 

Post show…

Unwinding takes a lot of time for me, which is unfortunate. As much as I want to sleep immediately, it's just impossible. I'm always buzzing after a show and even when I'm extremely tired, I can't put myself to sleep right away.

The most important thing post show, despite the exhaustion, is cleansing my face before going to bed. I take my make-up off with the products they provide me with backstage, then I get home and continue with my own routine and with my products. I use Obagi Cebatrol then I use a toner given to me by my dermatologist, Dr. Vicky Belo from Manila. I make sure to apply copious amounts of moisturiser on my face and neck called Retinol which I get from the States, RoC eye cream and then finally some lip balm.

I wear the most comfortable and softest sleepwear I can find and cover myself up with a duvet. I'm a light sleeper so I use an eye mask and ear plugs to ensure I get a good night's sleep before the next day’s performance.

Catch CATS at the Dubai Opera House until Saturday, January 28. Visit DubaiOpera.com for more information