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Old 09-03-2018, 10:34 PM
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I'm watching Cats for the first time and....wow, this is strange.


No, I mean it is stranger than you expect if you haven't seen it. I picked up the DVD of this show forever ago(like..15 years ago). I never put it in.

However, I love the following musicals:

- Phantom of the Opera
- Les Miserables
- Greatest Showman
- a few others

So...I heard that Cats is coming out as a feature film in 2019. I figured, I should check this thing out. I mean, I have a great full-cast Broadway DVD and it is time to check it out.

I am 40 minutes in. My thoughts:

- What is this?
- Is there no story?
- This ran for 20 years?
- Either this is insane or I have gone insane
- What is this?

This is the strangest show I've ever seen. Now, before my wife and I pushed play, I said to her, "Wait a minute. I need to prepare myself to look past the cat costumes and appreciate this for what it is. I can like this!"

My wife has now gone to bed and I'm watching it alone. Yes, I'm going to continue through the end. I have to see how this fiasco works out.

If I was a Broadway critic in 1981 when this opened, my jaw would have been permanently on the floor. Laughing? Shrugging?

This is the strangest thing. Kudos to my DVD for working after collecting dust for 15+ years.
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Old 09-03-2018, 11:08 PM
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It's based on a whimsical book of poems by T.S. Eliot, "Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats."
https://www.catsthemusical.com/now-a...ht-on-ts-eliot
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Old 09-03-2018, 11:21 PM
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Have you read "Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats", by T. S. Eliot. That's a starting point. Yes it is surreal, but fun. I saw it for the first time last year here in Japan.
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Old 09-03-2018, 11:29 PM
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Here's how I sum up cats...

People dressed like cats sing about cats.

That's it. Dont look for anything else it was so popular because uneducated idiots didn't have to hurt themselves thinking about plots.
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Old 09-03-2018, 11:38 PM
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My first moment of Cats:
In the theater on Broadway, I was sitting in the first tier balcony, maybe 2nd or 3rd row.
Somebody had laid their program pamphlet on the wooden railing in front of the seats on the first row of the balcony.

As they dimmed the lights, the usher told that person to remove the paper from the railing.When he was slow to react, the usher said it again, in a serious tone.
A few seconds later, a "Cat" flashed past my shoulder, jumped up onto the railing and down into the main theater below, and ran up to the stage.
I said to myself, "I'm gonna like this show".

But then, I have cats at home.

Now, I dunno where that actor came from before he appeared on the railing.
But then, I dunno where my cats come from when they suddenly appear on the window sill at home.
They just appear.
That's the magic of cats.

And I love 'em.

Even if they're 5 and half feet tall and wearing silly suits.

Last edited by chappachula; 09-03-2018 at 11:40 PM.
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Old 09-03-2018, 11:45 PM
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I saw it on Broadway during its first run in the late 1980s. Yes, it's certainly unconventional. It doesn't have much of a real story because it's based on a book of poems.

I think it became a hit originally because of the spectacle and the audience involvement - at points the cats danced through the audience so you saw them up close (as chappachula describes.

Here are some of the initial reviews from the first Broadway run. Several critics recognized it would be a hit from the beginning.

Quote:
The New York Times:
“There’s a reason why Cats, the British musical which opened at the Winter Garden last night, is likely to lurk around Broadway for a long time - and it may not be the one you expect…. The reason why people will hunger to see Cats is far more simple and primal than that: it’s a musical that transports the audience into a complete fantasy world that could only exist in the theater and yet, these days, only rarely does. Whatever the other failings and excesses, even banalities, of Cats, it believes in purely theatrical magic, and on that faith it unquestionably delivers.”
You won't get anything like the full effect from a DVD or a movie.

Last edited by Colibri; 09-03-2018 at 11:47 PM.
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Old 09-03-2018, 11:47 PM
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That's it. Dont look for anything else it was so popular because uneducated idiots didn't have to hurt themselves thinking about plots.
Did you ever actually see it?
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Old 09-04-2018, 12:16 AM
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If I was a Broadway critic in 1981 when this opened, my jaw would have been permanently on the floor. Laughing? Shrugging?
You should have watched “The Amazing Alexander” instead. I loved it. It was much better than “Cats”. I went to go see it again and again.

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Old 09-04-2018, 12:24 AM
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Did you ever actually see it?
Indeed. Though not on Broadway. In Cleveland when they came through in the late 80s/early 90's. I'm in no way trying to say I hate it. Just that it is...uncomplicated.
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Old 09-04-2018, 12:47 AM
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'Cats' is good because well..cats. Yeah, that's it, cats.


(And a few good songs)

Last edited by Beckdawrek; 09-04-2018 at 12:47 AM.
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Old 09-04-2018, 01:29 AM
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Cats is an excellent children's musical. I've seen it more times than I'd like to admit, all but once with our kids - who loved it. We saw it for the first time in London, twice on Broadway and twice in Philadelphia.
And I don't even like cats.
There is a tiny smidgen of plot, but if you blink you might miss it.

One time we got tickets at the last minute for some reason, and we wound up in a box on the right side of the stage. We had cats right in front of us several times during the show. The kids loved it.
If you're looking for deep meaning though, you are in the wrong place.
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Old 09-04-2018, 03:26 AM
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Saw it in '99 at the New London in Drury Lane. Was lucky enough (well, if knowing someone involved in theatre booking is lucky) to get seats on the revolving part.

Loved it - not everything in life needs to be complicated. Simple can be good.
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Old 09-04-2018, 03:56 AM
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Saw it twice, plot seems to be: every year, all the cats get together, have a party, and decide which one gets to move on to its next life via tyre-spaceship.

Just a very shaky framework on which to hang a lot of individual character songs.
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Old 09-04-2018, 06:23 AM
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Loved it - not everything in life needs to be complicated. Simple can be good.
Sums it up nicely! It's entertaining! Some catchy tunes and fun dance routines, clever costumes - why would it have to have a deep message or moral?
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Old 09-04-2018, 07:46 AM
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It was the first show I saw on Broadway, and I eventually saw it three times with different people.

As others said, the DVD just won't capture the magic of the experience. I never really followed the plot closely--it was about the music and the magic.
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Old 09-04-2018, 07:52 AM
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The average <insert your preferred musical genre> doesn't have a plot either. Neither do the paintings at the art gallery.

Plots can be good and all, but they're not necessary.
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Old 09-04-2018, 08:31 AM
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CATS in London was originally a very low budget show.The reviews were very mixed, but the audiences loved it. And it has played all over the world.

As others have said, it's a great show for children.

You can say what you want, but CATS has phenomenally successful.
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Old 09-04-2018, 08:45 AM
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I love Cats. (Also cats.) I saw it on Broadway, and it's still a fond, magical memory. I used to have a double CD set of all the songs.

Then again, when I first saw it, I was 8 years old. So my fondness for it is more than a little bit nostalgia. Still, while it may not answer the questions of life, the universe and everything, it's a fun musical.
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Old 09-04-2018, 08:53 AM
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I love cats, but unfortunately I didn't like this show when I saw it. I was bored, I remember being really, really bored and waiting for it to end so I could go home. Of course, that was a long time ago.
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Old 09-04-2018, 08:55 AM
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As they dimmed the lights, the usher told that person to remove the paper from the railing.When he was slow to react, the usher said it again, in a serious tone.
A few seconds later, a "Cat" flashed past my shoulder, jumped up onto the railing and down into the main theater below, and ran up to the stage.
I said to myself, "I'm gonna like this show".
When we saw the first touring company at the Fox Theater in St. Louis, I managed to score second row seats way over to stage left. No one was sitting to our right, and there was only a couple in the 1st row.

At one point -- probably the battle of the Pekes & Pollicles -- the cats came off the stage to sort of romp around. One of them hopped into the empty seat next to my college roommate, and had a paw-batting fight with another cat that was hissing at her from the empty seat in the first row. My roommate was, hilariously, petrified. When they were done, the one wandered off, while the cat in our row smoothed her "fur" and nonchalantly sauntered on down the row to go back on stage.

Watching the DVD does not give a good idea of what the live experience is like. Even if not seated someplace close to the action.
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Old 09-04-2018, 09:50 AM
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[I]t was so popular because uneducated idiots didn't have to hurt themselves thinking about plots.
So... People who read the collection of poems are uneducated idiots?
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Old 09-04-2018, 11:04 AM
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The production I saw was at the National theater in Washington DC. It has a fairly small stage and was positively squished in with their sets. I had a vague understanding that there would be little to no story or plot, and that they would be instead bringing poems to life.

As a serious ballerina at the time, I was REALLY looking forward to the dancing. I was expecting top of the artform modern dance with leaps and catlike nuances. I got a bunch of people in hastily drawn makeup sitting in a garish set singing in the standard chesty Broadway tones.

Disappointment was palpable throughout the theater; or perhaps mine was so intense it filled the room. Could'a been both.
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Old 09-04-2018, 11:51 AM
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I've always been amused by the line in Tank Girl where TG said 'Let's go see CATS!', as if it were still running.
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Old 09-04-2018, 11:55 AM
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I've always been amused by the line in Tank Girl where TG said 'Let's go see CATS!', as if it were still running.
[Scotty]“Capt'n! There be CATS here!” [/Scotty]

Last edited by running coach; 09-04-2018 at 11:56 AM.
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Old 09-04-2018, 12:57 PM
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I love cats, but unfortunately I didn't like this show when I saw it. I was bored, I remember being really, really bored and waiting for it to end so I could go home. Of course, that was a long time ago.
Yep. Bury it in a giant litterbox.
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Old 09-04-2018, 01:02 PM
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Anyone else want to call Jellicle Cats, 'Jelly-Filled Cats'? Especially in the play.

In case there's anyone who hasn't read it, here is The Old Possum's Book Of Practical Cats
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Old 09-04-2018, 01:13 PM
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Anyone else want to call Jellicle Cats, 'Jelly-Filled Cats'? Especially in the play.

In case there's anyone who hasn't read it, here is The Old Possum's Book Of Practical Cats
I've always assumed that "jellicle" was a child's way of saying "angelic." Has the intended definition ever been given?
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Old 09-04-2018, 01:17 PM
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Saw Cats umpteen years ago on Broadway. Back then it was *very* popular, especially with foreign tourists to NYC.
You certainly don't need to know any English to enjoy it - I think we were the only NYers in the audience :-)

Oh, and we really enjoyed the show!
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Old 09-04-2018, 01:18 PM
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One of the better musicals I've seen.
Memories:
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=4-L6rEm0rnY
One of the great songs from a musical.
I realized right away that one of the songs in the show was about the cat version of Moriarty.

Last edited by furryman; 09-04-2018 at 01:19 PM.
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Old 09-04-2018, 01:49 PM
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I like Cats and am also looking forward to a Waste Land musical.
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Old 09-04-2018, 02:25 PM
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I've always been amused by the line in Tank Girl where TG said 'Let's go see CATS!', as if it were still running.
They weren't kidding, you know:

Now And Forever
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Old 09-04-2018, 02:46 PM
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The production I saw was at the National theater in Washington DC. It has a fairly small stage and was positively squished in with their sets. I had a vague understanding that there would be little to no story or plot, and that they would be instead bringing poems to life.

As a serious ballerina at the time, I was REALLY looking forward to the dancing. I was expecting top of the artform modern dance with leaps and catlike nuances. I got a bunch of people in hastily drawn makeup sitting in a garish set singing in the standard chesty Broadway tones.

Disappointment was palpable throughout the theater; or perhaps mine was so intense it filled the room. Could'a been both.
Oh, how awful! I've seen Cats a few times and am ALWAYS impressed by the amazing dancing and movement. Even if you look at the actors that are not the focus, they are always in cat-character, slinking around like real cats. Uncanny and impressive.
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Old 09-04-2018, 02:50 PM
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I've always assumed that "jellicle" was a child's way of saying "angelic." Has the intended definition ever been given?
I always thought it was nonsense. Do you have an explanation for "pollicle" dogs?

This website has an alternative explanation: https://www.deviantart.com/hawkheart...-Dog-546306436

Not sure I believe it.
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Old 09-04-2018, 03:02 PM
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T.S. Eliot was talking with a child about his angelical cat, and the child asked "What's a jellicle cat?"
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Old 09-04-2018, 03:50 PM
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I've seen shows with cats acting and dancing like cats. Cats wasn't one of them. In the two productions I saw, and in all of the clips I've seen of other productions, the cats are all dancing in unison, and in the fragments of script Weber added to tie the poems together, they're all paralyzed with indecision awaiting the arrival of their great leader. That's not cat behavior. Heck, I've never even heard of a production that got Mr. Mistoffeles' gender correct.

My hypothesis is that Weber was a big fan of Elliott's depressing poems, and wanted to set them to music, but he knew that he'd get a terrible audience reception for that, and so he got out the only cheerful poems Elliott ever wrote, even though he didn't in the slightest understand them, and then crammed in as many of the depressing poems as he thought he could get away with. It's no coincidence that the best-known and most well-regarded song in the play is one of the ones that's not from Old Possum's Book.
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Old 09-04-2018, 03:53 PM
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Oh, and the music isn't even original; he plagiarized it from himself of a decade earlier.

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Old 09-04-2018, 03:55 PM
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I saw it on Broadway at Winter Garden a week or 2 before the last show in the 90's. Went with a theater geek friend. I didn't get Cats, at all. But the theater, sets, and costumes were all very interesting.
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Old 09-04-2018, 04:16 PM
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I saw a production of it in the 90s. My ass itched to be out of the seat and away from the theater practically from the beginning. My first wife, who was a trained singer and who had some stage experience of her own, shrugged the whole thing off as being more fun for the performers than for the audience.
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Old 09-04-2018, 04:17 PM
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One of the better musicals I've seen.
Memories:
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=4-L6rEm0rnY
One of the great songs from a musical.
I realized right away that one of the songs in the show was about the cat version of Moriarty.
Pretty much the only line from the show I use on occasion: "He breaks the law of gravity!"

Actually, if I heard right, "Memory" is the only song in the show where the lyrics are not in Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats.
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Old 09-04-2018, 04:28 PM
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Also "The Heaviside Layer". And it seems to me that there was another one, too, but I can't remember which one it would be.
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Old 09-04-2018, 05:42 PM
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I've seen shows with cats acting and dancing like cats. Cats wasn't one of them. In the two productions I saw, and in all of the clips I've seen of other productions, the cats are all dancing in unison, and in the fragments of script Weber added to tie the poems together, they're all paralyzed with indecision awaiting the arrival of their great leader. That's not cat behavior.
Of course, if you wanted a production where the performers accurately depicted cat behavior, half of them would spend the entire show hiding under the furniture.

And then there's the obligatory "hairball" scene...

Last edited by Colibri; 09-04-2018 at 05:47 PM.
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Old 09-04-2018, 05:47 PM
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So... People who read the collection of poems are uneducated idiots?
That's obviously not what I meant. I meant it has appeal to a wide range of audiences that would normally not like snooty, high brow musicals/operas/plays.
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Old 09-04-2018, 06:17 PM
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It's based on a whimsical book of poems by T.S. Eliot, "Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats."
https://www.catsthemusical.com/now-a...ht-on-ts-eliot
Oh, yes, I knew that. I'm not a huge fan of T.S. Elliot, but I have not read his cat poems.

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T.S. Eliot was talking with a child about his angelical cat, and the child asked "What's a jellicle cat?"
Huh, is that true? Neat. I had no idea.

I'm finishing the musical now. I'm 1 hour and 16 minutes in and I have to admit, there is a charm to it. The people are quite talented and it is a pretty good production.

I think I was under the impression it was a regular musical with a clear narrative story, a normal plot. I am realizing it is mainly songs about different kinds of cats. I guess that's cool. I do think my daughter would squee watching this. I may show her.

This is not the kind of musical I would expect to bring out a fan like this. I remember this from 2000 when it first aired. Dude loved Cats.
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Old 09-04-2018, 08:55 PM
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It's just a showcase for the songs of Eliot set to music. There is a slight plot, but mostly it's spectacle and flash.

As a side note, T.S. Eliot was not just a poet, but an accomplished playwright. He'd probably be noplused to discover his most successful theatrical work was from a book of poems he wrote almost as a throwaway.
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Old 09-04-2018, 09:06 PM
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I've always assumed that "jellicle" was a child's way of saying "angelic." Has the intended definition ever been given?
Yes. It was an overheard phrase by an old woman saying "dear little cats" to some strays.
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Old 09-05-2018, 09:37 PM
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Saw it in Louisville and Terre Haute. Loved it both times.
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Old 09-06-2018, 06:12 AM
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Here's how I sum up cats...

People dressed like cats sing about cats.

That's it. Dont look for anything else it was so popular because uneducated idiots didn't have to hurt themselves thinking about plots.
I'd argue that the paper thin "plot" is that all the cats come together one night a year at the Jellicle Ball and tell their stories to Old Deuteronomy (the priest-king of the cats). When they're all done, Old Deut. picks one (apparently the saddest) to go to the "Heaviside Layer" (either kitty heaven or a section of the atmosphere right below the troposphere.

And the amount of time it took to write the previous paragraph is probably 10 times longer than the amount of attention that the show pays to the "plot"

I enjoyed the spectacle and much of the music and dancing, but it doesn't hold up to any sort of thought.

Last edited by Fenris; 09-06-2018 at 06:15 AM.
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Old 09-06-2018, 06:53 AM
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A trusted friend who'd seen it about 25 years ago said "Cats sucked." Good enough for me.
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Old 09-06-2018, 08:53 AM
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It is whimsy. As Dr. Sheldon Cooper said: "What's life without whimsy?"

And the music is very good.
  #50  
Old 09-06-2018, 09:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by snfaulkner View Post
That's obviously not what I meant. I meant it has appeal to a wide range of audiences that would normally not like snooty, high brow musicals/operas/plays.
That's true of many of the most popular musicals, though. People don't go for the plot, they go for the music. Phantom of the Opera is a cheesy melodrama, Mama Mia has a plot concocted to string together Abba hits, A Chorus Line has virtually no plot, and The Lion King is based on a cartoon (although maybe Hamlet too).

While an interesting plot can enhance a musical (Les Miserables, Rent) it's hardly a requisite for an entertaining musical. Musicals in general are not high-brow entertainment.

Last edited by Colibri; 09-06-2018 at 09:11 AM.
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