Andrew Lloyd Webber's Cats--Love It, Hate it, Despise It?

In the shamefully guilty pleasures thread there were a couple of people who didn’t get why I hated this so and thought it was a perfectly fine musical.

To me, after I got old enough to stop liking it, it was the ultimate in schmaltzy crap. I mean…it has no story, guys in tight cat suits that leave nothing to the imagination, costumes that light up, sentimentality that comes from NOTHING IN THE PLOT. Ugh.

Is there anyone here who actually can say a few words in its defense? I know Annie X-Mas (I think?) has defended Andrew Lloyd Webber. But can this musical ever be defended?

I’ve seen it twice and I like the dancing. Some of the numbers are pretty spectactular. I think the costumes are pretty awesome. I like “Memories,” “Rum-Tum-Tigger,” and a couple of the other numbers. Flay away.

It’s abundantly clear that T. S. Eliot had cats, and knew them very well. The poems do a beautiful job of evoking the very essence of cat-dom.

It’s also abundantly clear that Andrew Lloyd Weber didn’t ever have cats, and knew them not at all, and that whoever does the choreography knows even less. No, the Rum Tum Tugger is not in any way, shape, or form a rock god, and it completely misses the point to make the Magical Mister Mistoffelees a guy. As for the dancing… Well, cats dancing, I can buy. But cats dancing in unison?

I suspect that Weber really wanted to do a show of Eliot’s earlier poetry, like the one that was turned into “Memory” and a couple other songs in the show, but realized that Eliot’s early work is far too depressing to build a Broadway musical around, and so shoveled in the Old Possum’s stuff to give himself an excuse.

And of course, this isn’t even getting into the whole “no story” thing. A musical should first and foremost be a play, and a play should first and foremost be a story. Cats isn’t any of that; it’s just a dance recital with pyrotechnics.

Why should Mr. Mistoffeles be a girl? I mean, I don’t really care what gender the cat is–it’s such a tacky, hilariously bad dance number, but what’s your reasoning for why it should be a girl?

A couple months ago we got a DVD copy of this into the store where I used to work until I was laid out and cast out into the wilderness to fend for myself or starve but anyway I digress.

We played it in the store, on the big wall screen, and before long everything in the store had stopped as we all kind of gathered in growing horror at the heretofore unimagined levels of badness that had been perpetrated in the name of–what? art? not art. Commerce maybe?

It was slightly sickmaking; not campy enough to compensate for the dreadful, dreadful, dreadfulness. It was like watching *Trapped in the Closet *without the commentary: no redeeming camp to laugh at. It was kind of like watching the worst of the *American Idol *auditions, where the horror of what you’re seeing is mingled with a terrible pity for the poor, poor people who have no earthly idea how badly they’re embarrassing themselves, and you’re powerless to stop it so you just have to turn it off and go lie down.

I found myself feeling sorry for the actors. I’m sure some of them just took the work because…well, actors can’t really decide what they do. And I think some of them had to be aware of how horrid it was. Andrew Lloyd Webber and the choreographer and the costumers, perhaps not so much.

But I read that Judi Dench was meant to play Grizabella in London and hurt her ankle at one point. I’m going to assume she chose that role. Why, Dame Judi, WHY?!

I don’t think Eliot wrote any of Memory, speaking of: love that song, hate the rest. I LOVE Broadway musicals in general, but this is an exception; I think it has a lot to do with the fact there are grown-ups running around the stage dressed as cats.

Which is odd, because I thoroughly enjoyed The Lion King, but then the costumes were a lot more interesting and the stage magic was awesome.

Because this extraordinary cat produced seven kittens right out of a hat.

Kinda difficult for a male cat to produce kittens.

You know those kinds of books you read when you want absolutely mindless pseudo-entertainment that you’d be mortified if your friends actually found out you read? You know, like when you’ve got a 3-hour layover in Chicago that you know damn well is going to be at least 6-hours, but there’s no chance someone you know will catch you reading a romance novel with Fabio on the cover or a Piers Anthony book or something.

That’s the kind of muscial that Cats is. You go to turn your brain off and watch the pretty lights accompanied by nondescript music. And then you hope no one you know sees you leaving the parking lot, after.

I loved it.

Cats, a cool back drop, music… I don’t get what everyone hates about it.

I hate it when I love something and the rest of the web says it’s bad. It makes me feel stupid.

Okay, Broadway musicals are not Shakespeare. Doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy them just because they’re fun.

And I agree, the film of the musical was awful. Gave no sense of pespective, and left out some scenes.

… oh, and T.S. had the most dry and dusty sense of whimsey I have ever come across.

“Oh my, isn’t it just so very clever to name a cat Old Deuteronomy. That had the other dons at the club just chortling with amusement…”

It has a plot? I thought it was just a bunch of numbers thrown together in no apparent order. I watched most of it a few years ago on PBS of all channels and was left…seriously underwhelmed.

Well, I went back to wiki. It says that the basic plot is that there’s this Jellicle Ball (and WTF is a Jellicle cat?!) and there’s an old down on her luck cat who used to be hot and glamorous named Grizabella and they all freak out when she comes near. And Old Deuteronomy says that one cat will go to heaven and be reborn in the Heaviside Layer. Then Macavity comes and steals Old Deuteronomy, they sing about Macavity, and then Mr. Mistofeles the magical cat brings Old D back in a show of magic, and then Old Deuteronomy chooses Grizabella to be reborn after she sings Memories. And Old Deuteronomy and Grizabella ascend on a gigantic tire and then Grizabella climbs up a ladder to the Heaviside Layer and that’s it.


Heh, thinking of Eliot thinking about his own sense of humor made me giggle.

Eh, it’s OK. Some of the songs are good. The order seems almost random. And, while the choreography might not be “catlike” enough for some of you, the actors and actresses , in my opinion, really nailed the cat-like behavior.

I saw it twice – once at the Winter Garden in NYC during its original run, and once north of Boston with our daughter. It’s more impressive in the full-sized fully-equipped Broadway theater.
This is highly whimsical for T.S. Eliot, whose other poetry seems so incredibly bleak. I once heard a recording of him reading his own poems, and he sounded like a soul-less robot, utterly devoid of human feeling. But he liked his Sherlock Holmes (He lifted lines from “The Musgrave Ritual” for his play “Murder in the Cathedral”), and the description of Macavity the Mystery cat is stolen from the description of Professor Moriarty in “The Final Problem”.

(Did Eliot really own cats? Then how could he write about the fog creeping in “on little cat feet”? Any cat owner knows what a joke that is, especially after a late night Cat Stampede)
And I like Andrew lloyd webber. Calling him “Bourgeois” seems weird, considering how his work broke the Refrain and Bridge sort of song that musicals had up until his stuff. I know lots of older folks who can’t relate to him at all.

A lot of Memory’s lyrics come from his poem Rhapsody on a Windy Night, although they are used to create something completely different than the originating work.

I actually like Cats. I love the poetry on which it’s based and I enjoy a number of the songs. The costumes are fantastic and the choreography often evokes feline movement to me. I appreciate the humour and the darkness.

However, I don’t enjoy hearing the same riffs and chord progressions I hear in every other Webber musical, and I think a (better) plot would have been nice.

It’s certainly not my most favourite musical (Guys and Dolls, maybe), but it’s also not my least (A Chorus Line, definitely).

The older folks prefer Aerosmith or KISS.

ALW is who I think of whenever I hear The Song That Goes Like This. I liked his three works with Tim Rice (JCS, Evita, Joseph &[etc.] in descending order by my preference) and I liked Whistle Down the Wind and parts of Sunset Blvd, but the rest (Cats, Phantom, Starlight Express, etc.) I can’t get into at all.

I studied dance for 10 years while in grade school and high school. That’s why I love Cats. The dancing is outstanding - not many musicals have really excellent dancers. Sometimes it’s pretty clear that the *Cats *performers are dancers first and singers second.

That wasn’t Eliot. It was Carl Sandburg.

Sandberg had little cat feet? In the pictures of him he looked normal.

He kept them in a mason jar under his bed.