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SHOW DATES : JUNE 21,22,23 & 24, 2018



     Cats, as a theatrical production, is both simple and simultaneously complex and complicated.

Many who have seen the show leave the theater gushing with adoration about the visual spectacle and vibrant sound, but say, “there is no plot.” For those who are armed with a little foreknowledge, however, and are paying attention, Cats is a rich tapestry woven with many threads of diverse meanings.

     The show can be many things to many people - so let’s explore the possibilities and we’ll let you, the audience member, decide what to take away.

     First and foremost, the show is a visual and audio display of the personality and psychology of, well, cats - the feline creatures half the world loves and half the world…puts up with. Some would say hate, but no matter.

     Most people will agree there is no figuring out the creatures themselves, for in a moments notice a cat can go from loving, to aloof, distant, regal, uncaring or even murderous. Many pet owners say of cats that the cats own them.

     Indeed, the musical is based on a collection of poems by the renowned English-American poet T.S. Eliot, called “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats,” which he wrote in the 1930s for his godchildren. The poems were an attempt to explain the fantastical creatures in a fun way for children.

     Composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, himself a cat-lover and fan of the poems since childhood, first began playing with the idea of setting the poems to music in the late 1970s. He credits his son with the idea to turn them into a musical, and the idea for one of the longest-running, largest selling musicals in history was born.

Webber wrote the music for Cats - using the actual, direct words from Eliot’s poems as lyrics in almost all songs - in true Webber style; as a “sung-through,” or what may popularly be called a rock opera. There is very, very little spoken dialogue, and when there is it is spoken as part of a song lyric.

This may be partly why some have difficult truly “understanding” the show - we aren’t used to having stories sung to us. Webber took from the large collection of poems and arranged them to tell us a story through song.

     So, what is the story? In short, a group of cats, which call themselves “Jellicles” (as in, “a tribe of Jellicle cats”), explain through song that they come together once per year to choose the most single worthy cat of their group to ascend above the Earthly realm and be reborn into a new life.

     This one cat, chosen by the Jellicle leader, Old Deuteronomy, will ascend “up, up, up to the Heaviside Layer” (and, interestingly, there actually is a “Heaviside Layer” in science - a part of the ionosphere roughly 50-90 miles above the Earth’s surface).

     The show opens by explaining that first, each cat has three names - the casual name (the name that the family uses daily, such as Gus), the proper name (Asparagus, which is shortened to Gus for casual use), and then the cat’s secret name - which only the cat knows, and will never divulge; all part of the feline mystique.

     The audience is then treated to a parade of some of the more well-known and respected Jellicle cats, who make their bid to be chosen for ascension to the Heaviside Layer by explaining their qualities and what makes them special. The narration of this is provided by Jellicle cat Munkustrap.

     We meet Jennyanydots, The Old Gumbie Cat, who sleeps and lounges all day long; Rum Tum Tugger, a playful prankster that the female cats find extremely attractive, and who enjoys being the centre of attention, Grizabella, The Glamour Cat, who is shunned by the rest of the tribe despite being a Jellicle Cat and Bustopher Jones, a large “twenty five pounder”, always clad in signature white spats.

     A thunderous crash will signal that the villainous Macavity is on the loose and send the Jellicles scattering.

     Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer enter, a fun-loving, frolicking team of pranksters who are always in trouble. 

     The entire tribe returns as the benevolent and wise Old Deuteronomy arrives. The cats adore and respect him, indeed he is father to some of them. 

     They entertain him with a special show narrated by Munkustrap, The Awefull Battle of the Pekes and the Pollicles, with the cats dressing up as the two rival dog factions who bark ceaselessly at each other until they are frightened away by the Great Rumpus Cat, a sleek and powerful feline.

     Finally, it is time for The Jellicle Ball, the great annual dance in which all the cats celebrate.

Grizabella appears once more, wanting to rejoin her family and be a part of the celebration. She is left to contemplate her “Memory” of the time before she left the tribe. She stretches out her hand behind her, hoping another cat will touch her. She is still not accepted and, disappointed, slinks off into the night.

After the Jellicle Ball, the cats rest and contemplate “The Moments of Happiness” before introducing more cats.

     Gus the Theatre Cat is an aged stage actor who worked with the greatest actors of his day (we’re even treated to a recollection of one of his “greatest” characters - Growl Tiger, with an Italian aria performed in the middle of the “show” by Growl Tiger and his love, Lady Griddlebone) and Skimbleshanks the Railway Cat introduces himself.

     Demeter and Bombalurina sing what they know of Macavity, whose evil deeds have resulted in his being dubbed the Napoleon of crime, and Macavity returns (on the sly) and kidnaps Old Deuteronomy.

Macavity returns, disguised as Old Deuteronomy, but he is exposed and battles with Munkustrap and other cats. Tired and almost defeated, Macavity rigs an electrical explosion that puts out all the lights, leaving the Jellicles in the dark. But they still have to find Old Deuteronomy.

     The Rum Tum Tugger calls upon Mr. Mistoffelees, the conjuring cat, to use his magical powers to bring back their leader. Mistoffelees succeeds in turning on the lights again, locating Old Deuteronomy and showing off his spectacular magic tricks, including his infamous conjuring turn.

      At last the time has come for Old Deuteronomy to make the Jellicle Choice and decide which cat will be reborn into a new Jellicle life. At that moment, Grizabella reappears. Again she recalls her “Memory” of how things used to be. This time the cats accept her back into the tribe and it is she who is chosen to Journey to the Heaviside Layer and be reborn.

     The Jellicle Ball has come to a conclusion, but first Old Deuteronomy instructs the human spectators in “The Addressing of Cats”

     For those who’ve reading closely, imagine the many things happening here; there is an explanation that hard-to-understand cats are really much like humans. There is a tale of personal loss and redemption. There are loyalty and devious deception, fun and frolic, dance and rejoicing and mourning of the loss of what once was.

     And there is a heavy theme of religion woven into the story, possibly on purpose, possibly by happy accident - that is left to the viewer - where “Jellicle” cats could be a play on “angelical.” Old Deuteronomy - a biblical name on its own - plays a God-like figure, and decides who is worthy to ascend to the “Heaviside Layer,” which isn’t hard to imagine as a metaphor for Heaven.

     Even in Mr. Mistoffelees can be seen a Christ-like figure, who loves all returns to the masses a feeling of hope for the future - even bringing back the missing Old Deuteronomy; a possible metaphor Jesus Christ bringing God and man (or cat) together in a wholly new way.

     Of course, every viewer may find a different message; these are but some possibilities that are easily seen. If nothing else, the audience is sure to love the explosion of sound and visual spectacle that is Cats, and perhaps - just perhaps - understand these regal creatures just a bit better.






About Dreamweavers

The Dreamweavers of West Tennessee is a volunteer, non-profit 501c3 community theater group located in a city owned, renovated movie theater on 601 Court St in historic downtown Savannah, Tennessee. Dreamweavers was founded in 1994, by M. I. Marshall, who conceived the idea, Jim Osburn, who willingly joined his fledgling Hardin County Harlequins with Dreamweavers, and Terry Marshall and Margaret Osburn, who provided the artistic and day to day support for the community theater. Over the past twenty three years Dreamweavers has presented more than hundred musicals, dramas and comedies. Dreamweavers presents several live theatrical works each year, including a major musical production in the summer.  Membership is open and does not include any fees.  Participate in any event, any way, and you are already a "MEMBER". Membership is automatically renewed if you participate in at least one event produced by Dreamweavers each year.