I have to admit that we had some doubts before going to see the show. After all, we have purchased the show’s DVD since forever, and never popped it into our player. The quality of the DVD is quite bad, probably due to the technical limitation of that time. And shortly before we went to the show, I downloaded the CD from iTunes, but the songs did not really impress. Furthermore, my effort to prepare for the show by reading up about the script made it sound even worse, with so many cat names that were impossible to remember. However, we still went to the show, with open minds and open hearts, and a firm belief that, Andrew Loyd Webber would deliver, and there must be a reason why it was the longest running musical in Broadway…
We were blown away. Really.
It was beautiful. Simply beautiful. Amazingly beautiful.
You have to see it to understand how good it is.
Now, suddenly it all makes sense. And the songs fit in perfectly. You need to put them in context to understand it, to feel it and to love it.
Andrew Loyd Webber is really a master of musicals. And this musical is so special. It has a lot of layers. It borrows from so many genres, combining them, putting them together, highlighting the difference while still showing the coherence and consistency.
It’s a smooth flow of events, and of styles. From Russian folk dance to rock and roll to jazz, opera and pop, to Gospel Music and rhymes. Two hours passed by in a wink, and we left the theatre, yearning for more of the magical music.
Let’s quickly go through the main songs in the musical.
Jellicle Songs for Jellicle Cats: The first song in the show, which is the introduction about those cats and sets the context for the musical. You may feel a bit overwhelmed and lost, but keep on watching, and trust me, it will only get better. And don’t miss the beautiful solo dance by the beautiful white cat.
The Old Gumbie Cat: Quite cheerful and hilarious. You can see some traces of Russian folk dance here.
The Rum Rum Tugger: The classical Don Joan cat. The change to fast Rock N Roll is fitting for the showy feline.
Mungojerrie and Rumpelteazer: Another cheerful, cheeky song. The chemistry of the duo is really strong, you may feel they are really twins. Even when they roll across the stage, they also roll together. They must be very close in real life, I believe.
Old Deuteronomy: Smooth change of style to Gospel music. I can strongly feel the love and respect that the cats have for their leader, who surely leads them by love, not by fear, and I can feel the image of Jesus Christ that Andrew must have thought of when constructing this character.
Grizabella, the Glamour Cat: The role that made Elaine Page a household name, and the idol of Susan Boyle. It’s a normal song if you just hear it, but when you see it, you will feel the pain and perseverance of Grizabella, who used to be the glamour cat.
Gus the theatre cat: Looking at him, old, haggard, with shaky paws and crumbled face, yet seeing his eyes lit up when he recalled the past moments when he was in his prime, and his glory on stage, that really touched me deeply. A very relatable experience, I must say.
Skimbleshanks the Railway Cat: The cheerful tone came back just in time after 2 soulful but sad songs. Nothing much about this song, but it cheered me up a lot.
Macavity: Love the tempo and the arrangement. Macavity appeared really mysterious, powerful and dangerous, even though he had no song.
Mr. Mistoffelees: Nothing much about the song, but the dance routine is beautiful. I felt like I was watching a professional ballet, not a dance within a show.
Memory: Just one word: BEAUTIFUL. Enough said.
The Ad-Dressing of Cats: A meaningful song with a meaningful message to end the show. It really speaks for the all the cats in the world, and if you listen to the lyrics, and look at your cats and their behaviour, you will be shocked to see how true it is, and that you have never realised the facts that actually hit you right on your face day in day out. And perhaps you will love your cats a little bit more than normal 🙂
The faces behind the make-up