We bought the tickets many, many months ago. In fact, almost as soon as the announcements were made that “Cats” would be staged at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP), we bought tickets. Yesterday, we went to see it. But this isn’t about the musical. At least, not really. It’s more about the spectacle I created right there at the CCP main theater.
It was raining yesterday. Speedy dropped us off at the theater entrance, went off to park the pick-up, and we agreed to just meet him inside. The three of us — Sam, Alex and I — went in (I should mention that I had to sass a couple who were trying to jump the line), did the rest room routine and off we went to find our seats. It’s been years since the last time I went to the CCP main theater. If I remember correctly, the last show I saw there was Miss Saigon. When the girls were younger, we’d watch musicals at the William Shaw Theater at Shangri-La Plaza, mostly Repertory Philippines productions, but I’ve never gone to the CCP with them. In the past, I’ve gone with friends, with cousins… but never with the girls and Speedy.
So, yesterday, after so many years, I didn’t remember the set up and that was probably why I decided that the front row balcony tickets (P2,000.00 each) were “okay” and there was no need for the more expensive lower balcony seats (cost twice as much). I was surprised that we had to take the elevator to the fourth floor. It’s been that long.
As soon as we entered the door to the balcony section, I already knew there was a problem. Steep. High. Height. No railings. Speedy had caught up with us by that time. We started descending the steps to the front row but by the time I was on the second to the last step, I froze. I couldn’t walk. I couldn’t manage to walk the few steps to our assigned seats because to my right, there was only a two-and-half-foot (okay, maybe three) high wall between me and the floor below — four stories down. Speedy was already in his seat, he was waiting for us, the girls were waiting for me… And I blurted out, “I can’t. I’m scared.”
That may sound crazy especially for someone who felt an adrenalin rush while taking photos of the street from the 89th floor of a skyscraper. But there’s a huge difference when there’s a taller-than-myself wall between me and the abyss below — even if it’s clear glass. It’s not the sight of how far “below” is — it’s more the knowledge that there’s nothing but thin air between me and “below.”
Okay, so I sat down on the steps, holding on to the backrest of the seat nearest me and I refused to move. It was a mere five minutes before show time and the girls and I still weren’t in our seats. And people were starting to look at me — not just the ones near me but the ones far away from me. And I found myself laughing. Because I knew I looked ridiculous but couldn’t help it. Other people would probably feel embarrassed. I didn’t. Heck, everyone’s scared of something. Why should I pretend? But the thing is, I knew I had to get to my seat or walk out before the show started because the moment the lights were turned off, there was no way I would ever reach my seat.
Speedy suggested that I enter through the second row and step over to the front row. The people on the second row were very nice, and encouraging, and as I passed each one of them, muttering apologies, they were saying, “Don’t look down, keep your eyes toward the opposite direction.” Somehow, I managed to reach the seat right behind mine. But I still had to slide down to mine. By that time, I knew I was running my own show in there. Everyone who could see me was watching me. I could feel their eyes. Center stage, baby. If there’s something I’ve never been afraid of, nor balked at, it’s being the center of attention.
So Speedy was holding my hand, I had one foot over but couldn’t manage to swing my other foot. Good thing that cameras weren’t allowed in the theater or I probably would be all over the internet by now. I felt Speedy pulling me (he later said he wasn’t — he said I was pulling away and he thought I would tumble backward), I told him not to and, I don’t know how but, somehow, I swung my left foot over and I felt myself sliding safely to my seat. I was almost expecting the audience to break into an applause. And, surprised, I found Sam and Alex seated in theirs. How the hell did Alex manage that? Heck, in my family, it is Alex who has problems with heights. At least, we thought so. She doesn’t even like escalators. It appears that I have more serious problems.
The girls were giggling. They said there was a young child who had been laughing at me. Sam said, “Mommy, you have to blog about this!” And I laughed, amused at my stupidity. The lights went off soon after that. We watched the show, enjoyed some parts (others were boring), Lea Salonga was Grizabella. For the most part, I felt that she tried too hard to project her powerful voice but who the heck doesn’t know that she has a powerful voice and the rendition of “Memory” would have been more effective if she had managed to inject the melancholy that really characterizes the song. At any rate, she did still make my hackles rise near the end of the song so I was happy enough. I’m still trying to find out who played Rum Tum Tugger and Mr. Mistoffelees because it was they who really made the show worth watching (Sam thinks that Adam Lambert is just perfect for the Rum Tum Tugger role, and Speedy and I agreed).
When the show was over, we waited until most of the people had gone out before leaving our seats. But I didn’t put on a show this time. Going up was no problem because my back was on the abyss. So, the exit was rather uneventful. If the other viewers were expecting an encore from me, so sorry to disappoint them.