A taste of the exotic
Can't make it to Italy for the world famous Carnival of Venice? Look no further, the Venetian Carnevale is just a ferry ride away at the Venetian Macao. The festival is all about classic family fun, and features live performances, activities, as well as delicious carnival food.
The festival atmosphere rivals that of the real thing. This year's event features new decorations that elegantly capture European splendour. You step through the extravagant welcome arch and embark on a journey through the Walk of Masks, the grand entrance to The Venetian Carnevale. You can pose for photos with the masked dancers and acrobats who welcome you. Or you can relax on stylish motorbikes while sharing a meal and admiring the Venetian lagoon.
There are also plenty of things to do for the more adventurous. Try out some of the classic carnival games on offer, like the Scooter Shooter or Feed the Clown, or dare to have your face painted and hair styled crazily on stage with the Sienta La Cabeza makeover show. The Catalan group from Barcelona is renowned for their fantastic hair-dos that take imagination to the limits - they can literally defy gravity!
And if you're feeling creative, wander over to the crafts section where you can make your own Venetian mask or flower crown to take home. Whether you're a seasoned carnival-goer or just a newbie, this year's Carnevale is sure to delight.
We were told early on that the highlight of the fifth Venetian Carnevale would be the Venetian Light Storm show. As 7pm approached, the sky turned a dusky red and the sun began to set.
As we took our place by the lagoon, I couldn't help but feel a tug of excitement. I had been informed that the people who were performing were women, and I was thrilled to hear that women did stunts as well. There were three metal poles in the middle of the lake where the light show was due to be held.
Suddenly, something cold and metal brushed my shoulder, and when I looked back at what had touched me, I saw three people wearing full metal, chainmail-like suits, were headed towards the three metal poles in the middle of the lake. I watched in awe as the three metal-clad ladies climbed up the poles.
The atmosphere was charged with anticipation. We could almost sense the crowd collectively holding its breath.
Without warning, 4 million volts of electricity came shooting out of the sticks they were holding. The vision looked so dangerous that my heart leapt at the sight of it.
The performers waved their electricity sticks and swung them right and left as though they were in an electric sword fight.
A spark connected with a nearby electricity conductor and formed a clear and chilling lightning-like strand across the sky. Then, fireworks burst out from behind the three women. My senses were completely overwhelmed as the performers brandished their sticks and the different coloured fireworks illuminated the dark sky, creating a magnificent view.
As the commotion died down, I watched the withering smoke from the fireworks on the horizon, feeling an immense sense of satisfaction.
More than just a song and dance
You might think that Cats is just about a bunch of cats singing and prancing around. However obscure the plot may be, the musical does tell a story, which is based on T.S. Elliot's Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats. This collection of whimsical poems is about the lives of a group of cats called the Jellicles, and their interactions with one another.
Overall, the musical is a snapshot of lives of the Jellicle cats as a collective and as individuals. The collective nature of the Jellicles is explained through group numbers, which are adapted from the book's poems, such as The Naming of the Cats and The Song of the Jellicles. Individual cats, such as the Rum Tum Tugger and Macavity, are featured with solos of their own. These cats have diverse personalities, backgrounds and talents. For example, Macavity is popularly known as "The Mystery Cat" for his shady, criminal background and evasive talent.
In addition, there are two sub-plots in the musical; one surrounds the disappearance of Old Deuteronomy, the patriarch of the Jellicles, and the other tells of Grizabella's journey to acceptance and rebirth.
As the Jellicles' leader, Old Deuteronomy is revered and adored. But following the appearance of the notorious Macavity, Old Deuteronomy disappears and the cats are determined to find him.
Grizabella, in contrast, is alienated by the other cats. They pity and are disgusted by her fall from "The Glamour Cat" to her current ragged, worn state. Yet they learn to feel compassion for old Grizabella, electing her to be the one to go to the Heaviside Layer and be reincarnated as a new Jellicle.
Cats is not just any musical - it's an explosion of light and sound that will keep you hooked until the final bow. It is easy to see how this spectacular show won seven Tony Awards when it debuted in 1983.
This fusion of rock and roll, big band swing and classical music is the work of Andrew Lloyd Webber, and has a song for everyone.
Take the timeless song Memory. Even if you don't know Memory by name, you will recognise the tune. Actress Erin Cornell graced us with a powerful performance, with some particularly impressive high notes.
Solos are not the only appeal of Cats - in fact, quite the opposite is true. The enchanting choral work in the slow, gentle Old Deuteronomy kept the audience spellbound, and turned the song into my favourite from the show.
Another fun number was Mr Mistoffelees, which has a catchy chorus that practically begs you to sing along. Mr Mistoffelees is full of special effects and accompanied by a brilliant dance piece.
It is difficult to sing every note in a song perfectly, but imagine having to dance at the same time. The Cats cast succeeded magnificently at this, drawing cheers from the audience on multiple occasions. In Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer the lithe actors performed a challenging vocal duet and at one point sang and cartwheeled at the same time!
The peak of this dance extravaganza was when the performer playing Mr Mistoffelees burst onstage with his solo. I have never seen a performer with so much energy, and I was blown away when he ended his dance with 24 turns - all without putting his leg down once. This move isn't always performed in Cats because it's so challenging, so I felt incredibly lucky to see it.
The quality and vigour of the performers will definitely draw you back to watch Cats again if it returns.
The Venetian Carnevale ends on March 29th. Visit the Venetian Macao website for more information.