Let’s face facts….
…….we as a delightfully crazy society may not be able to agree on much or just anything these hazy daze, but if there’s one thing that we can ALL agree on at this very moment in time….
….it’s that Andrew LLoyd Webber‘s ever lasting, Broadway game-changing, Tony Award owning musical CATS is one of the weirdest spectacles to ever grace the planet and gracefully land right in front of our eyes.
Purr the way….the extraordinary show was derived from T.S. Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats (check it out) and made its official debut on May 11th, 1981 in London’s New London Theatre.
But…think about it a for a second…..a whole bunch of really, really enthusiastic people in leotards dressed up and acting like cats?? Like, so weird, right?
So, why does this show continue work (and werk, mind you) and show no signs of stopping for close to four decades and continue to span and take over generations?
Well, as anyone who just reveled in any one of the stunning performances that literally took over the Forrest Theatre these past two weeks knows this truth…..CATS is truly like no other show on this entertainment lovin’ planet…and that’s purr-haps the best part of it all.
Oh, yeah…the world might just continue to live for that classic choreography and a little song called “Memory” that destroys our worlds upon every soul shattering listen.
Ever hear of it? Of course you have…as it’s from one of the weirdest, yet wildly wonderful Broadway extravaganzas called, CATS…and the City of Philadelphia is just so thankful that we got to experience all of it these past few weeks.
With that being said, a meow..purr…hiss and a giant big ol’ jellicle bowl of bravos and bravas to this extraordinary cast for an incredible job well done. Hope you all get to relax now because…wow…what a workout. Take a seat!
But don’t go for a long CATS nap (would we ever??) just yet as the ferocious Munkustrap,–otherwise known as incredible Broadway performer Dan Hoy stopped by (you know you are still liv-ing for him!) to spill some entertainment milk about the show that just captivated us all, including just how they do, well, all of it and just who he’s looking forward to seeing in Mr. Rob Marshall’s highly anticipated upcoming film adaptation….JHud! Ms. Rebel!! Mr. Idris! Dame Judi! Jason Derulo!! Yaassssss.
So, the time has come to pay some (more) respect to Mr. Hoy and this incredible cast and let the CATS memories begin again starting…now.
And for much more with this sensational tour, check this out as fast as you can!
So, just to spill some tea on your acting resume, it seems you were completely obsessed with CATS as a kid, so how does it feel to have your paws all in it now? It’s really incredible. It’s been an amazing full circle moment to get to do this production. I grew up with CATS…it was one of the first musicals I ever experienced. I tell this story all of the time..because it’s just ironic how true it is. I love [this show] so much that the VHS tape that my parents got me actually broke because I wore it out from watching it so much. They had to buy me the DVD copy so I wouldn’t be so upset! This is [also] my first gig out of college…so it was like the end one chapter of my life finishing school and then kind of beginning with the first musical that I truly loved and still do.
Before we sharpen our claws with this particular version, let’s break some mugs about the upcoming movie version set to be released this Christmas and helmed by the one, the only..Mr. Rob Marshall. Idris! Jennifer! Rebel!! Which ones are you most excited for as a true CATS die hard and actor? I’m going to give you kind of weird answers here…Jennifer Hudson as Grizabella…so obvious! I cannot wait to hear her “Memory.” I love her as a vocalist. But I’m also actually really excited to see what they do with Dame Judi Dench as Old Deuteronomy. This is really interesting since they’re gender swapping the character. She is [also] a brilliant actress. I’m also looking forward to see Ian McKellen as Gus the Theatre Cat….which is perfect! I’m interested to see what they do with those two characters in particular. And then of course, as you have to be when it comes to Cats is the choreography. Just really excited to see how they adapt all of this for a modern audience.
Plus, we saw and lived for what Marshall did with Chicago, so you know it already has Oscar buzz scratching all over it. Absolutely.
So, Rebel Wilson was on Ellen not too long ago and she said the cast pf the movie actually went to cat training class….is that something you guys had to do as well? Yes, actually..we did. We all got to know each other very quickly and very well! One of our very first rehearsals was with associate director and choreographer Chrissie Cartwright….who was on this revival and the Broadway tour, as well as the right hand woman of original choreographer Jillian Lynn‘s Broadway choreographer camp. [Cartwright] has set dozens of productions of CATS across the world..so she knows her stuff!
What types of exercises did you have to do? We started with cat improv and sensory work while laying on the floor. She asked us to imagine what it would be like [if we had] fur all over our [bodies] and how [we] would sense the world differently. She told us to get up and start moving through space and imagining how those different senses impact your movement. So, we spent an entire day not even doing choreography..just really crawling around on the floor and figuring out how a cat would move through space. It was really cool. Obviously..as is CATS...it’s a little bit strange to most people, but I really loved it and embraced it. Also, real cats don’t do pirouettes, so t’s really figuring out how to do all of that while still maintaining the felinity..as they would often remind us.
As long as they didn’t make you guys drink from a bowl of milk or play with a giant ball of yarn…. Yeah, yeah…none of that! That might have been a bit much!
As you spilled earlier, CATS is truly, without a doubt…one of the most fascinating–if not weirdest–entertainment spectacles to ever grace the Broadway stages…so why do you think it still hold so much magic nearly forty years later? There’s nothing like it. It’s a true unique entity within itself. What’s cool about this production is that’s it’s viewed from a 2019 lense. Even if you seen the show a hundred times, you’re still going to get something new with this version. While there has been a lot of life injected into the show, we’ve kept a lot of the iconic moments. But it’s really extraordinary what this show means to so many people.
Its magic truly spans over generations….It’s those kids parents who got to experience this show in its first form, now they’re bringing their children to experience it in its new life..it’s just really fun to see how it reaches how to so many generations while holding on to the tagline ‘Now and Forever”
It sure does.
CATS cover photo courtesy of Kimmel Center