5.31.2010

This is the part where The Mayor tries to explain CATS


Okay, so yesterday I was able to cross another item off my bucket list and saw the 1980s musical CATS. Guess what, people? CATS isn't a guilty pleasure for me; I feel no guilt over my love for singing, dancing, leotarded anthropomorphic animals. Let me give you a little back story about me wanting to see CATS, okay?

Note: Now would be a good time to get a drink or use the bathroom if you don't give a shit about flashbacks or stories about my childhood. Peace! See you in 10 minutes.

Okay, so CATS was released in 1981, before I was born, but it was one of the longest-running stage musicals of the 80s and I was bombarded with the commercials on TV telling me not to miss this once-in-a-lifetime experience. We didn't have a cat at my house (my mother was allergic) but my Aunt had a cat named Blackie that I LOVED. Also I was TURBO OBSESSED with Thundercats and I assumed that CATS would just be like Thundercats LIVE! aka A Good Time Had By All. Anyways, I begged my Mother to take me and she always refused; I think she saw CATS with my Dad and they both didn't like it (her other argument was that I would be bored to death since all I watched on TV was action cartoons like She-Ra and Spiderman and the lack of 'splosions would have me fidgeting all through the show). There was no way I could win; even if someone had volunteered to take me, my parents would have shut them down, told them to save their money, or, if they really wanted to give me a once-in-a-lifetime experience, to buy me a Thundercats VHS tape that I would no doubt watch till VCRs became extinct at the hands of DVD players. When I moved schools in Grade 4 I heard talk that in Grade 6 all the kids got to attend a play in the city. The rumor was that we might see CATS, but it turned out that we would see The Phantom of the Opera aka SUPER BORING LAME TIME. I really didn't give two craps about seeing Phantom because later that year my grandparents were going to take me to see Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat aka The Bible Just got a Whole Lot Sexier, Amirite? (Which, I must say, is a really fun show for both kids and adults alike, but you probably already knew that). Eventually CATS stopped playing in Toronto and I never got to see it.

Fast forward to the future! So I mentioned this to my Aunt, that I have never seen CATS, and she arranges a girls-day with my sister and my Nana. Seriously, you have no idea how excited I was - I refused to spoil the show by reading the Wiki article on it or YouTubing any songs. So what did I think of it? Um, here is something nobody tells you:

CATS is FUCKING CONFUSING.

Don't get me wrong, it's amazing and the songs are so good and 80s and synth-y, and the sets are really cool, and all the actors had phenomenal voices. But there is like, no plot, at all. I am going to try really hard to explain the plot of CATS to you:

PLOT SUMMARY
So the show opens and there are a shitload of cats on the stage in a junkyard (?) and it's nighttime. Apparently there is going to be some annual cat-party thing where a wizard cat (?) or like, an old cat is going to pick one cat to be the Prom King. They sing a lot about this party. I think it's like the cat Oscars or something. Anyways, they spend the next hour introducing all the cats. All the songs are like this:

"This is Skimbleshanks and he is orange and he rides the train and he is a super guy!"

or

"This is Bustopher Jones and he is fat and he likes food and he is a super guy!"

After about 9 or 10 introductions, the old lady scraggle cat sings Memory and then we get to intermission. This is the part where I wait in line 15 minutes to use the bathroom. After intermission, the cats sing more songs about introductions and at one point in time I am pretty sure I witness cats having sex. With 10 minutes left in the show, a cat dies/goes back to her home planet (?) and the play ends.

Are you confused? So am I. Here are the questions I have for Andrew Lloyd Webber:

1. Do the cats live on Earth or in Outer Space?
No seriously, I still have no idea whether or not they are on Earth or some weird cat-planet. In the beginning it looks like a spaceship comes down from the sky, but it could also be a lit cloud that represents heaven...or something...? I have no idea.

2. What time in history are we?
I wanted to believe the show was set in the 80s, but then they kept talking about Queen Victoria, so....yeah. Because I don't know much about the Victorian age, but I am almost positive they didn't have trippy synth at the turn of the century.

3. Are the cats strays or just house cats that come out at night?
I felt like they were all cats with homes and families, because one of the cats (Rum Tum Tugger) talks about how he is always being let in and let out and how he frustrates people cause he can't make up his mind. Then again, all these cats seem to know each other pretty well which makes me think they're all BFFs who don't have homes.

4. The cats in CATS are all super-high-energy and managed to gymnastics their asses around that stage for 2 hours. Cats in real life are not nearly this active. I suggest you rename the show BORDER COLLIES.

5. What was with all the made-up words?
I got really confused and would have loved a glossary at the beginning of the Playbill.

6. Seriously, did that cat die at the end or go back to her home planet?!?!?

CHARACTERS IN CATS:
Rum Tum Tugger
Okay, from what I gather, Rum Tum Tugger loves to have sex. He also has a wallet chain attached to his pants, which makes little sense to me because why would a cat need a wallet? Also Rum Tum Tugger's owner should strongly consider neutering their cat as he is like the Charlie Sheen of the cat world.

Skimbleshanks
This cat likes to ride on trains and is sort of the rail yard mascot. Just like Tama!! Adorable!!

Mungojerrie and Rumpelteazer
They steal stuff? They're like shoplifting teenagers or something.

Macavity
He might be the Devil, but I would assume that in a play about cats the Devil would be a dog or a Vet or something.

Old Deuteronomy
He is like Mr. Burns.

Mr. Mistoffelees
This cat is magic or a magician or Criss Angel. I'm not sure which, although he does wear a jacket with tons of rhinestones on it, so I think he may be Ed Hardy.

Grizabella
Okay, so this is the cat that dies at the end. She is really old and grizzly (oooh, hence the name!) Throughout the play the other cats don't really like her (there isn't a backstory given, so maybe she was a bitch to them or something. Or maybe the cats are just assholes) and then at the end they love her...right before she dies. Just like in real life!

So yeah, that's CATS in a nutshell. Speaking of nuts, my seat was close enough to the stage that I could see all the cat nuts up close in person. Thanks, Spandex, for making me lose my lunch!

2 comments:

Renee said...

There is an episode of Reading Rainbow in which they visit the set of Cats, and everyone is getting ready. And for some reason, when I see stage makeup, it makes me feel kind of throw-uppy.

Also, the fur coat things they all wear gross me out. because they look like they can't be washed, no matter how much you sweat.

Also, their nutsacks in leotards. That's sick too.

So... I don't think I'll go see Cats. But thanks for the review.

alex davey said...

you should have posted pictures.