The Cats' Meow


CATS was playing at Proctor’s Theatre in Schenectady this past weekend (July 16-18). I had never been to a production. Other than knowing that it was based on some minor poems by T.S. Eliot, and that Andrew Lloyd Webber and his ex-wife Sarah Brightman were involved, I knew surprisingly little about it. So the wife, daughter and I went; we got some seats on the side, about 2/3s of the way back, and we had a good sightline, especially since much of the action seemed to skew stage left (audience right), where we were. Separately, my brother-in-law, his wife and their two daughters also attended.

Did you ever see a performance, whether it be a band or orchestra or play, where you recognize the tremendous talent of the performers, the excellent technique of the stage crew (I rather liked the lighting, which was strewn into the audience section), the imagination of the set design, yet somehow feel really disengaged from the performance? That’s how I felt about much of the first act. Oh, there would be a song or two that gained my attention, followed by gaps where I nearly fell asleep. Then near the end of the first part, a song I recognized: Memory. Oh, THAT song.

The second act featured a bizarre segment that none of the people I knew who had seen it years earlier remembered: a what the @#$! pirate motif. Still, the second act was stronger, if only because there was some sense of linear storytelling. The one downside, a reprise, and another reprise and maybe a third, of Memory.

Other distractions, not the fault of the production people. The guy in front of me needed to scratch his head, but does he need to hold his arm perpendicular to the top of his head, thus obliterating my sightline? And the guy behind me eating M&Ms; the eating wasn’t the problem, it was the repeated pouring them into his hand.

Afterward, we saw folks from church who told us about how someone from their previous church wrote a sermon about the theological significance of the story. I suppose this refers to the cat who goes up on a hovercraft that reminded both my wife and me of Close Encounters of the Third Kind. The sermon writer wept at the end of Cats; wish I had had such a visceral reaction.

I mentioned to the group gathered after the production that CATS was the second longest Broadway production ever. People asked me what was first, and I was drawing a blank – I HATE when that happens. Was it Chorus Line, Rent? No; I knew I’d know it if I heard it.

Turns out to be Phantom of the Opera, another Lloyd Webber product I’ve never seen. Check out the Wikipedia site, which seems to be updated weekly, or the Internet Broadway Database – IBDB.com, for the current status of each show.

0 thoughts on “The Cats' Meow”

  1. Re: SPAM, I have no idea.

    Sometimes some of the comments come to my yahoo account as spam, but I have not experience it with blogger.

    I have not seen Cats, many years ago, I saw Evita, and throughly enjoyed it.
    How old is your daughter?

    Today, my son is 14. He is officially allowed to be on his own according to New Zealand law. He is so happy.

    Cheers,

    Like

  2. Either you love CATS or you hate it. I’ve not found too many people in-between! I love it and have seen it 6 times. My kids have probably seen it at least 3 times and knew the lyrics to the songs by the time they were 10 years old! I’ve seen stellar performances and ones that were bombs. The key is in the casting and makeup. Good casting makes it mesmerizing to watch as the “cats” really get into their feline personas.

    Over the years, the musical has received 7 Tonys, 3 Grammys, 6 Oliviers, 1 Golden Globe, Oscar and an International Emmy. It’s also been the recipient of the Praemium Imperiale, the Richard Rodgers award for Excellence in Musical Theatre and the Critics’ Circle award for Best Musical 2000.

    What I like best about the play is each of the cats is a social metaphor for our culture. I agree the overall storyline is pretty cheesy, and the ending does smack a bit of an alien abduction. But, for me, the music of Andrew Lloyd Webber and the choreography (when done well) is what keeps me going back again and again. And when you have the chance, definitely go see Phantom! It is absolutely amazing!

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  3. I must admit that Cats has always seemed boring to me too. even the one big hit was no showstopper. I saw it in a dinner theatre here in westchester with two “Cats” lovers, my wife and niece. Andrew Lloyd Webber wrote better songs with Tim Rice.

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  4. Did you ever see a performance, whether it be a band or orchestra or play, where you recognize the tremendous talent of the performers.

    Yeap! I have always wanted to see cats. Lucky you!

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  5. Be thankful you don’t have to suffer through my hubby’s rendition of “Memory” 😉 I have never been to a professional production. Hope to catch one before I die… have a blessed weekend!

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