SHOW DATES : JUNE 21,22,23 & 24,
ABOUT THE MUSICAL
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
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
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;
Tugger, a playful prankster that the female cats find extremely
attractive, and who enjoys being the centre of attention,
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
A thunderous crash will
signal that the villainous
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
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.
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
The Rum Tum Tugger calls
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.
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AUDITION DATES AND
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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.
was founded in 1994, by M. I. Marshall, who
conceived the idea, Jim Osburn, who
willingly joined his fledgling Hardin County
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
has presented more than hundred musicals, dramas
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.