The poet T.S. Eliot once commented that the works of Irish dramatist and write Bernard Shaw were much improved once set to music.
I wonder if he'd share a similar opinion about the musical CATS , based on his own Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats . Whatever else he might think, one imagines that Mr. Eliot couldn't help but goggle at all the flying fur and psychedelic spandex bodysuits.
The local Rainbow Youth Theatre showed off their version of Andrew Lloyd Webber's CATS this week and I went Friday night. It was a sold-out show.
I have to say right up front that I'm a sucker for musicals. I'm not looking for sophistication necessarily. I just want to be merrily entertained . And I was.
CATS is light on plot, but big on energy, acrobatics, and well-crafted dance choreography. In a nutshell, an enormous number cats are gathering under the moonlight for the annual Jellicle Ball . The set resembles a sort of junkyard with culverts and ramps and ledges.
The Jellicle Cats await the arrival of their beloved leader Old Deuteronomy who will name one cat worthy of journey to the Heaviside Layer , there to begin a different Jellicle life. It's a little sketchy, but one is left to presume that this is a good thing, as the cats vie with one another to introduce themselves and their individual merits.
We meet Skimbleshanks, Gus the Theatre Cat,Mr. Mistoffelees, Mungojerrie and Rumpelteazer, Grizzabella the elderly Glamour Cat and a host of other felines. At times there were fifty dancers cavorting on stage. There were magic tricks, a kidnapping, a pirate ship, and catburglars. Also, there were a few people I knew up there on stage and I think that always adds an element of fondness for a show.
There was ballet, tap-dancing, cat-suited people leaping down from dreadfully high stage-props and all sorts of back-flips across the stage. And I'm still catching myself humming that one about MagicalMarvellous Mister Mistoffelees two days later.
My mom leaned over during the performance and whispered that this was sure to be a musical my friend Tai, a girl notoriously skeptical of the merits of musicals, would enjoy. Well, I might not go so far as to recommend it to Tai, but it did have pirates, well, er, cat-pirates....so you never know.