Monday, January 11, 2010

CATS: the Snarkicle

Because I absolutely had to get it out of my system, the abbreviated version of the musical "CATS." I warn all pregnant women, young children, and those with high blood pressure to beware.

Every time I see this set, I have to restrain myself from screaming, "Euthanize the kitties! Bring on the Taverna!" We are, as you see, at the Wintergarden Theater, which is currently showing Mamma Mia! And yes, you know you're in trouble when a musical which is basically a Maury Povich paternity test set to disco is considered a work of art compared to your show.

The kitties prance and dance and sing about how great it is to be a Jellicle Cat.

Old Deuteronomy, the corpulent old feline leader and guru, stands on a raised platform and half heartedly imitates the rest of the dancing cats, like a guy on a TLC "650 pound Virgin" special doing water aerobics while waiting for the insurance company to approve his bariatric surgery.

Keep on, keep on dancing, little cats.

Ten minutes later, no one has any idea what a Jellicle Cat is, nor will they ever. But I have an even stronger urge to reach for a razor and go all Chien Andalou on my eyes than I did the day I stumbled across that Neuticles site.

Next, Victoria, a white female cat in a skin tight suit performs a dance that made me stare at my shoes in horror when I had to see Cats with my parents.

And because the unwashed masses seem to think that gyrations that would make Mary Lou Retton blush are Culture, this is how we ended up with Cirque Du Soleil years later.

Snark on, MacDuff. The Rum Tum Tugger, who's apparently the love child of Mick Jagger and a Laker girl, bumps, grinds, and touches himself. If you thought the ending of the Black or White video was hot stuff, you'll love this.

Side Note: the Rum Tum Tugger always pulls a lady from the audience to dance with him. One woman sued the actor playing Rum Tum, Andrew Lloyd Webber, and the Wintergarden Theater, for sexual harassment. Can you blame her? I feel as dirty as Hank Hill in that dolphin rape episode of King of the Hill, and I'm watching it on youtube at home.

Apparently, some of the Cats got to put "Doubled as Fluffer" in addition to "Swing" on their resumes.

Next, a cat who's called Grizabella the Glamor Cat, a down on her luck cat who used to be totally hot (think Lindsay Lohan's trajectory) enters. None of the others let her play in any kitty games.

"Andy likes me better because he gave me whiskers and real cat ears. Don't you wish your costume was hot like mine, Teddy Ruxpin?"

Side Note: Judi Dench was meant to play the role of Grizabella in the London production but ended up being replaced by Elaine Paige when she snapped a tendon. Dame Judi proved herself to be a true badass--none of this "Sorry, Mr. Mamet, I ate a bad tuna sammich" for her (take that, Jeremy "the Human Thermometer" Piven). Sawing through your own tendon to avoid a role is what true grit is all about.

But can you blame her? I'm guessing Andy promised her a role that was more Eartha Kitt and less "I'm a casualty of animal hoarding."

Another hour or so of kitty dancing. Railroad cats, theater cats, and a kitty ball. To paraphrase Blackadder, Mr. Lloyd Webber, I'm thicker than a whale omelet, but even I know--a musical's gotta have a plot.

Andy got the message. Over half way through the show, he decides to leaf through "Musical Writing for Dummies" and realizes that most plays, books, films, and children's puppet shows have antagonists. Hence, Macavity the Mystery Cat.

"I hope Tina Turner doesn't notice I made off with her wig collection..."

Macavity fight-dances a couple of other cats and somehow manages to appear less menacing than Kitty on a Roomba. Then he steals Old Deuteronomy.

Time to bring Old D back! Mr. Mistoffelees has an elaborate dance number, which the Rum Tum Tugger sings, with the whole cast joining in for the chorus. I thank god and the costume department that Mistoffelees is wearing a glittery tux and not a skintight latex cat suit.

Mr. Mistoffelees, I no longer doubt your commitment to Sparkle Motion.

Mr. M. brings back Old Deuteronomy and the Rum Tum Tugger's tone changes as he sings earnestly. Then Mr. M. leaps onto Old Deuteronomy and nuzzles him as the other cats sing, and somewhere some over educated cats are debating who should be disemboweled first for slandering the feline species--Lloyd Webber or the CEO of lolcatz.

"Oh, well!"

"I never!"
"Was there ever a cat so clever as..."

"When I think about you, I touch my--Oops, wrong number."

"Look, Ma, no balls!"

Once again, thank you, costume department--this jumping sequence could have been so much worse.

Then for no real reason, it's time to send one of the kitties off to the Heaviside Layer. That's Kitty Heaven. Every seven years, a cat gets to ascend to the Heaviside Layer on a gigantic tire to be reborn.

Old D has to choose one cat.

"I can haz HEAVEN plz?"

What a surprise! It's the cat with "HAZARD WARNING: I SECRETE PATHOS" tacked to its hide. Grizabella ascends to the Heaviside Layer as the other cats chant.

Incidentally, Cats fanfic exists. I'll remind you that Mary Anne and Logan dressed up as two characters from this musical for Halloween in Mary Anne's Bad Luck Mystery. Now, how many of you want to see Ann M.'s fanfic collection? (Forget her BSC first editions and her autographed copy of Five Little Peppers!)

This post is dedicated to my good friend ali who's always up for a fun theater snark. Together, we've seen a ton of musicals--the good (the twin wonders that are Nolan Gerard Funk's hips), the bad (two words: Pal Joey), and the ugly (a college production of Wake Her Up, a rock musical version of the myth of Psyche and Eros, in which Eros swivels his hips and somehow makes the Rum Tum Tugger look as suave as a pre jumpsuit Elvis).