Sunday, December 25, 2016

CATS the Musical, Neil Simon Theatre, New York

CATS was spectacular. I’ve waited to see CATS nearly 30 years ago.  As a huge fan of T.S.Elliot I was delighted to hear that Andrew Lloyd Webber the genius of Jesus Christ Superstar, Phantom of the Opera, and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat had made one of his works into a musical.  Frankly, when I first heard of CATS back in the 80’s I thought it would be serious T.S. Elliott like the Wasteland and the Hollow Men.  I’d studied and loved The Hollow Men as any intellectual university student might.  I didn’t know of his whimisical writing Old Possums Book of Practical Cats.
Still I liked cats and having lived with and loved many I understood perfectly that a great man of such talent would be taken by cats whose very independent existence is  the envy of any intellectual.  T.S. Elliott’s Sherlock Holmsian powers of observation certainly capture the essence of each of his cats.  Cat people recognize them instantly which is half the fun of the production.
Neil Simon Theatre is a perfect theatre epitomizing all that is Broadway. It’s large enough but still intimate and one can only imagine a very busy backstage and green room.  Having acted in my youth I was again blessed to be sitting in a Broadway theatre watching a Broadway play. To some of my fellow Canadians,  imagine Maple Leaf Gardens or Rogers Arena.
The set was fantastic and the costumes even more so.  The orchestra and music were perfect. And the cast were, well, Jellicoe Cats! The dance was the best in the world with ballet, tap,  acrobatics, choreography and timing NASA would admire. Munkusstrap, Rum Tug Tugger, Grizabella, Blusterpher, Mungojerrie, Rumpleteazer, Growltiger, Magical Mr Mistoffelees, Old Deuteronomy and more appear and sing as one or as all in a delightful show of humour, charm, elegance and spirit showing that really Cats are more human than humans.  It hardly seemed possible there was an intermission. It was all so enthralling. And when the music crescendoed and the momentum of the dance ratcheted yet another step higher it was hard to believe it could ever be over. Yet there I was with all the audience standing and clapping and cheering these performers who’d not only filled the stage but intermittently danced up and down the aisles amid the audience. Children must love this because it all made me feel so young again.
Thank you cast and crew of this wonderful New York play. It is all I could ever hope from Broadway, an excellence of art in every way.   I love CATS.  Laura is still humming the tunes!
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