I have no idea how these cats got wedged into a musical, or why
May 6, 2016 1:35 PM   Subscribe

Cats, the popular musical composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber (based on the poetry of T.S. Eliot), will be adapted as a movie, to be directed by Tom Hooper. Noted for its longevity, Cats ran continuously on Broadway for 18 years, and on London's West End for 21 years. The show will return to Broadway in August, after a 16-year hiatus. Mee wow!
posted by schmod (98 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
 
You're KIDDING. It's coming BACK?!?
posted by Zephyrial at 1:39 PM on May 6, 2016 [10 favorites]


Costume/scenic designer John Napier, who won one of the seven Tonys earned by the 1982 production, will once again design this production’s costumes and scenic design.

I thought the costumes made everyone look like The Cowardly Lion after a rough weekend in Tijuana. Maybe that's what he wanted I guess.
posted by thelonius at 1:40 PM on May 6, 2016 [23 favorites]


I'll be curious to see how they turn it into a film. The costumes and make-up that work so well on stage often seem ludicrous on the screen, so obviously they'll need to do a total redesign. Furthermore, since the show lacks anything more than a whisker of a plot, I wonder what sort of rewrites will be necessary?

Cats was one of my first live-theate loves (Sweeny Todd was the first, which explains a lot about me) and despite the fact that I can now recognize its all spectacle and no substance, I still love it. Its like the Hostess Cupcakes of musicals. A comfort food that I know is bad for me but I can't lay off.

Disclaimer - I have diabetes now so I have laid off the cupcakes. I will hope indulging in cats won't cause some similar health issue in the future.
posted by Joey Michaels at 1:41 PM on May 6, 2016 [6 favorites]


And they all say "Oh, well I never, was there ever, a film so clever as a magical Ca-a-ats moo-oo-vie?"
posted by Capt. Renault at 1:44 PM on May 6, 2016 [8 favorites]


Just when I thought we were finally free...
posted by SansPoint at 1:45 PM on May 6, 2016 [3 favorites]


I thought Sidney Poitier had signed on to do that.
posted by mcdoublewide at 1:46 PM on May 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


I've still never seen this production, on stage or on film. But "Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats" is one of my favourite poetry collections. I'm not sure whether this means I really need to eventually see it, or if I should avoid it just so I can continue to elicit confused stares by saying "Oh, I haven't seen it, but I loved the book" whenever it comes up.
posted by 256 at 1:47 PM on May 6, 2016 [12 favorites]




My grandma took a ton of us to see this show once. (Seriously, like twenty people.) I was maybe twelve years old and a serious reader, yet I found it incomprehensible. Years later it still seems like pure gibberish.

I can't believe someone green-lit this.
posted by wenestvedt at 1:54 PM on May 6, 2016 [2 favorites]




I was a tiny child when Cats was a big deal. I'm sure my parents still have the cast album that they bought me, and seeing the musical was totally a highlight of my childhood. I also had a Cats t-shirt. Seriously, sparkly costume people dressed as cats? Songs about cats? It could only have been better if there were also sparkly unicorns, ladies in tunics dueling villains and an eighties fantasy movie rock intro/outro.
posted by Frowner at 2:02 PM on May 6, 2016 [14 favorites]


Christ, I can still remember Conan O'Brien making fun of it ending on his old NBC show.
posted by praemunire at 2:02 PM on May 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


But "Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats" is one of my favourite poetry collections.

Unfortunately, Andrew Lloyd Webber missed the point of the fine or both in adapting the poems to music.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 2:04 PM on May 6, 2016 [4 favorites]


When I first saw this news, I misread the director as Tobe Hooper.

I would watch that version of Cats.
posted by Lyn Never at 2:09 PM on May 6, 2016 [25 favorites]


About ten years ago, a production of Cats came to our hometown and my wife, through her employer, had snagged a pair of free tickets. We got dressed up, headed downtown, found our seats, and sat back to enjoy the famous Broadway show for the first time.

At intermission, we headed out and found a quiet corner to relax. We both wore very diplomatic expressions, but I ventured forward with, "You know, the shops are still open nearby and we could just go take a walk for the rest of the evening, if you'd like." Mrs. Mosley gave me such a relieved look of "I thought you'd never ask" and we booked it out of the theater.

Needless to say, neither of us enjoyed it very much, but it did give us one of those classic marriage mind meld moments that I'll never forget. For that: Thank you, Cats.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 2:10 PM on May 6, 2016 [30 favorites]


I saw it when I was about 8 and loved it (though my mother had prepped me by reading the poems so I was very disappointed that my favourite stanza in The Old Gumbie Cat had been left out.

I haven't listened to the soundtrack in years and years, but I enjoyed it and I am looking forward to this movie. I don't care whether it has a plot.
posted by jeather at 2:13 PM on May 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


I've only ever, uh, interacted with Cats as an object of ridicule in popular media. I've never even read a wiki summary of its plot, and have no idea what it's about, other than talking-singing-dancing humanoid cats. Is it set after the apocalypse? Is there a main evil cat? Are there any dogs? I feel like it exists better as a partially understood mystery.
posted by codacorolla at 2:14 PM on May 6, 2016 [12 favorites]


But "Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats" is one of my favourite poetry collections.

Unfortunately, Andrew Lloyd Webber missed the point of the fine or both in adapting the poems to music.


Logan's Run did a better job at remaining true to the feline source text.

Plus, it had Box!
posted by ActingTheGoat at 2:18 PM on May 6, 2016 [7 favorites]


I read the summary on Wikipedia, and it's still a partially understood mystery.
posted by codacorolla at 2:18 PM on May 6, 2016 [11 favorites]


I've seen Cats. Multiple times. It's just as fucking terrible as everyone says, a crime against God, man, and musicals. I can't think of a single other modern musical that has literally inspired protests against its return.
posted by Itaxpica at 2:25 PM on May 6, 2016 [6 favorites]


The plot is inessential to the spectacle, which is about people dressed up like singing and dancing cats. I have fond childhood ♫memories♫ about the show, but if it came out now, having listened to Spring Awakening, I probably wouldn't voluntarily see it.
posted by Small Dollar at 2:25 PM on May 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


Back in the mists of time, for our anniversary, my wife and I took a trip to Chicago. As part of the weekend, and against out better judgement, we went and saw Cats. We left at the intermission. God, it was awful.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:25 PM on May 6, 2016 [3 favorites]


Why did I think there already was a movie adaptation of Cats? Oh, yeah, because they already made one in '98.

So... what's different here? It's not just a film of the stage play?
posted by GuyZero at 2:25 PM on May 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


I always forget that T.S. Eliot had a cat phase. Like how even do you get from

That corpse you planted last year in your garden,
Has it begun to sprout? Will it bloom this year?
Or has the sudden frost disturbed its bed?
Oh keep the Dog far hence, that’s friend to men,
Or with his nails he’ll dig it up again!


to

The Naming of Cats is a difficult matter,
It isn't just one of your holiday games;
You may think at first I'm as mad as a hatter
When I tell you, a cat must have THREE DIFFERENT NAMES


????
posted by Gymnopedist at 2:28 PM on May 6, 2016 [17 favorites]


Here's what I think Cats is probably about,

In the cold aftermath of The Great Unhinging humanity is a dim memory. This causes the main cat, Fluffleplump, to sing "Memories". Instead, evolution has taken an alternate, branching path: cats that mainly sing and dance. After Fluffleplump has sung its song, another cat comes on stage. This cat is named Glufflerump. Glufflerump sings a song called, "Hey Fluffleplump Remember That its Time for the Heyerman-Eisenstein Festival?" This lasts for 25 minutes. Fluffleplump says to Glufflerump, "Yes" in the song "Yes" (performed by Yes). Five more cats come on stage: Hrmph, Grettygoo, Hegglethorn, and Zeeeeek (this cat was an uncredited inspiration for the animated show Zeek the Cat, later renamed Eek the Cat to avoid copyright trouble). Each of these cats gives a 10 to 12 minute expository song about their life, their position within the Heyerman-Eisenstein Festival, and their relationship to each other cat on stage. Then the cats dance, which represents a parliamentary debate about who will be the Cat of Affairs for the Heyerman-Eisenstein festival.

[Intermission, wherein the cast breaks character to tearfully beg the audience not to leave]

Fluffleplump is inexplicably in a cage. This is never explained. The primary, evil cat comes on stage and introduces himself as Francisco Cattlebon, a legendary cat real estate magnate who wants to turn the Heyerman-Eisenstein festival grounds into a for-pay litterbox (performs song "This is Just Like Human Politics if You Think About it!"). Fluffleplump does a complicated, cage-based dance solo, which summons his cadre of cat-panions to his side. There are five more new cats: Defecatron, Defecatron 2, Joolypaws, and Nimp. Each of these cats, as before, performs a 10 to 12 minute expository song. The audience is assumed to have left at this point, so there is no record of how the musical ends.
posted by codacorolla at 2:33 PM on May 6, 2016 [38 favorites]


TOUCH ME
It's so easy to leave me
All alone with the memory
Of my days in the sun

If you touch me
You'll understand what happiness is...

--------

Good luck getting that out of your head now.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 2:36 PM on May 6, 2016 [10 favorites]


A close friend and I are planning a trip that involves a couple of nights in NYC. We had talked about seeing a show, but Hamilton seems pretty much impossible. The middle-school wannabe Grizzabella in me is going to have a *very* hard time not suggesting the new Broadway production.

(also, I will totally drink a lot of wine and watch the movie version on Netflix while singing along and annoying my actual cats)
posted by sparklemotion at 2:37 PM on May 6, 2016 [2 favorites]




Cats is hours of patent nonsense surrounding "Memory," which only approaches an acceptable song when sung by Betty Buckley.

I'm going to listen to her sing "Finding Home" a few times as a palate cleanser just from all this Cats talk now.
posted by zachlipton at 2:40 PM on May 6, 2016


I always forget that T.S. Eliot had a cat phase.

As someone whose parents read often from Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats, I can say that the surprise works in the 'cats' --> 'etherized upon a table' direction, too.
posted by cjelli at 2:42 PM on May 6, 2016 [11 favorites]


My sixth grade crush sang "Memory" as a solo at our elementary school concert. For me, there is no more to be said.
posted by meinvt at 2:42 PM on May 6, 2016 [7 favorites]


TS Eliot is a marvelous poet. "Cats" is terrible, but goddamn there is divine justice to the fact that that (brilliant, problematic ) bag of dicks will end up being better known for Skimbleshanks, the Railway Cat than he will "The Hollow Men."
posted by thivaia at 2:46 PM on May 6, 2016 [5 favorites]


Will it be at the Winter Garden Theater, though?
posted by terooot at 2:50 PM on May 6, 2016 [3 favorites]


Know what the best part of Andrew Lloyd Webber being recycled on Broadway is?

It means that something NEW from the Thomas Kinkade of Theater isn't filling that spot.
posted by delfin at 2:57 PM on May 6, 2016 [17 favorites]


I assume they're going to have to make some concessions to contemporary musical theater trends, and add a character named Aaron Purr.
posted by prize bull octorok at 2:58 PM on May 6, 2016 [15 favorites]


Also now Paul Newman will be in the right place.
posted by delfin at 3:02 PM on May 6, 2016 [2 favorites]


Good luck getting that out of your head now.
Looks like tonight's the night to try that sample of Malort that komara was kind enough to send.
posted by wenestvedt at 3:05 PM on May 6, 2016 [5 favorites]


Will it be at the Winter Garden Theater, though?

I called Telecharge but they said they don't sell movie tickets.
posted by uncleozzy at 3:13 PM on May 6, 2016


My friend from high school and I were in Vienna for a student exchange thing, and someone gave us tickets to Cats. All the posters around town were in English, the sign outside the theater was in English, and it never occurred to us stupid 17 year olds that a musical in VIenna would be sung in German, of course.

"Mondlicht, und die Katzen verschlafen!"

A nonsensical musical based on whimsical poetry becomes even more hard to parse in a barely understood foreign language.
posted by Malla at 3:24 PM on May 6, 2016 [8 favorites]


I think it may be a musical about how body stockings are only for the young, and spandex makes old cats cry.
posted by Malla at 3:26 PM on May 6, 2016 [4 favorites]


256 said: "I've still never seen this production, on stage or on film....I'm not sure whether this means I really need to eventually see it, or if I should avoid it just so I can continue to elicit confused stares by saying "Oh, I haven't seen it, but I loved the book" whenever it comes up.

Hee. A colleague offered to lend me a DVD of "Horton hears a Who" and I was able to say "I haven't seen it but I read the book".

After years of hearing how awful "Cats" was, I watched a filmed version on PBS and I was stunned that it was even worse than I thought it was going to be.
posted by acrasis at 3:30 PM on May 6, 2016 [2 favorites]


There's a weird thing about Andrew Lloyd Webber in German-speaking countries to the extent they built a special venue called the Starlighthalle in Bochum, Germany to house a permanent production of Starlight Express that's been running for 28 years. I don't really understand it.
posted by zachlipton at 3:30 PM on May 6, 2016 [11 favorites]


But this time, all the cats will be named after 18th century political figures.
"Oh well I never
Was there ever
A cat so clever
As magical Hercules Mulligan?"
posted by Biblio at 3:31 PM on May 6, 2016 [8 favorites]


Well, at least Tom Hooper has found a musical to match his talent level.
posted by aldurtregi at 3:34 PM on May 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


Hercules Mulligan! A Jellicle all alone in the moonlight!

No. This doesn't work. I'm sorry.
posted by zachlipton at 3:43 PM on May 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


Midnight
And the kitties are sleeping
Downstairs by the furnace
While the birdies are cheeping
posted by MrBadExample at 4:01 PM on May 6, 2016 [3 favorites]


Hameowlton
An-jellicle!

Seriously, this is the worst idea.
posted by lunasol at 4:04 PM on May 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


MrBadExample I was just about to post that! It's still one my of favorite bits of nonsense to sing while i walk around the house.

We had a video tape of the stage production and sometimes I'd go downstairs in the middle of the night and find my sister watching it. I don't think I've ever made it through the whole thing.

I will most likely see this but I'm waiting for the cast list. I haven't yet been able to watch Les Miserables with Russell Crowe as Javert.
posted by betsybetsy at 4:08 PM on May 6, 2016


betsybetsy, just don't. It's so bad/sad. I feel like the movie made me retroactively hate Les Miz.
posted by lunasol at 4:13 PM on May 6, 2016


I can't believe someone green-lit this.

Shimbleshanks.
posted by officer_fred at 4:18 PM on May 6, 2016 [3 favorites]


Yesterday I read on Wikipedia that Mr. Sheffield, the Broadway producer/boss/dad/love interest on The Nanny had a long running rivalry/hatred with Andrew Lloyd Webber which was colored by the fact that he turned down the opportunity to produce Cats causing him to be not-as-rich as he was (even though he was plenty rich because his kids had a nanny that dressed in Prada and the like all the time and a butler who was English so you know that dude wasn't cheap.)

This isn't really entirely relevant to the thread, but I figured if I knew this, you should too. I hope if this movie bombs, Mr. Sheffield can finally find some peace.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 4:19 PM on May 6, 2016 [9 favorites]


Blech. So I once watched a video of a performance of a song from Cats called "Mungojerrie and Rumpeteazer". I wanted to give Cats a chance, because I love musicals, including one, and only one, by Andrew Lloyd Webber (Evita). In all sincerity, it was sickening. I've never had a reaction like that to a bit of singing and dancing. For like a year afterwards, I would sometimes get a mysterious queasy feeling which I would slowly identify as a subconscious memory of that video. I hate to think of it. Really quite dreading being confronted with trailers and other evidence of the existence of this film.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 4:28 PM on May 6, 2016 [6 favorites]


Cats was the first show I walked out on at Intermission. It felt delicious to stand up for my taste and to decide that my time and enjoyment were worth more than suffering through to the end, despite the significant cost of the tickets. Even better: telling others about my departure and finding out how many of them wished they'd done the same. Memories!
posted by carmicha at 4:34 PM on May 6, 2016 [4 favorites]


I've seen it on stage (touring companies) twice. I listened to the American cast album more times than I can count. I love Cats and I am not ashamed to say it.

zachlipton, Betty Buckley is the reason I appreciate only the American production. It's been done pretty well by other singers, but she's the best.

Jellicle cats don't need no steeenking plot.
posted by lhauser at 4:46 PM on May 6, 2016 [3 favorites]


Apparently this new production will include some new numbers that involve AC/DC, fronted by a feline Axl Rose as "Manejeeyowler":

But we've got the biggest Jellicle balls of them all!
posted by Kabanos at 5:01 PM on May 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


When I was 19 in 2002ish I owned a bright red 1991 BMW convertible that had seen better days but still mostly ran. It obviously didn't have a CD player built in it, and after having my disc man stolen 2 too many times I decided to just switch to tapes. Nobody was going to steal a tape collection, even with the top down. I went to Half Price Books and bought anything that looked remotely interesting, but the only thing I listened to for almost an entire summer was Cats. On repeat. With the wind blowing cigarette ash into my mouth and backseat. I probably still know all the words to that stupid musical, in order.

It wasn't that long ago, I guess, but listening to Cats makes me miss that damn car, even if I don't necessarily miss being 19 years old and too broke to replace a CD player I was too stupid to bring with me in my purse.

My partner didn't let me name our tux cat Mister Mistoffelees, and maybe that's for the best, since I'd end up singing at him more than I already do, and probably end up selling my practical car and replacing it with a 26 year old ragtop.
posted by zinful at 5:01 PM on May 6, 2016 [6 favorites]


It means that something NEW from the Thomas Kinkade of Theater isn't filling that spot.

Maybe he can spend more time in the House of Lords voting to flog the poors harder then.
posted by acb at 5:05 PM on May 6, 2016


that (brilliant, problematic ) bag of dicks

Everything is "problematic" and I don't even know what it means anymore. Is that just because he was the Keymaster of WASP culture?
posted by thelonius at 5:15 PM on May 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


This is a movie begging for the "...and zombies" treatment.
posted by warriorqueen at 5:26 PM on May 6, 2016 [4 favorites]


Also I was in Cats at camp and accompanied several friends singing Memory. Curse this ear worm thread.
posted by warriorqueen at 5:27 PM on May 6, 2016


I'm reading this while listening to the 8-bit version of "American Woman." You're welcome.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 6:50 PM on May 6, 2016



Well, at least Tom Hooper has found a musical to match his talent level.


Exactly! My immediate response was, "... did none of them see the film Les Mis? Because that shit was awful, especially with his mega close-ups (brilliantly skewered in the Honest Trailer)."

There's gonna be way too many closeups of cat whiskers.
posted by TwoStride at 6:50 PM on May 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


I absolutely loved CATS when I was about 12-16ish, and could belt Memory out with as much over-drama as one could wish for. I did see it on stage (on tour) and...I think I liked it? I would definitely hate it now, and feel no need to revisit that particular madeleine.

Also, count me in on team Skimbleshanks --> the hollow men and my goodness.
posted by kalimac at 7:02 PM on May 6, 2016 [2 favorites]


I've actually seen Cats in two languages (the German production was great, and I got my German cast album autographed by Old Deuteronomy after the show).

The thing about Cats, which was made clear by the 1998 movie version is that it isn't a musical. It's a dance recital. That cast members might sing or there might be some staging or some imagined through-story is beside the point. It's a dance recital, pure and simple. And what it does, it does (or did) brilliantly.

I wonder if the new production will use the original choreography or do something new.

I guess if Hooper has a vision for how this will work in movie theaters, I will trust him. He did a pretty good (if brutal) job with Les Miserables.
posted by hippybear at 7:06 PM on May 6, 2016 [5 favorites]


My only memory of this musical is from elementary school, where we probably staged the worst rendition known to man. I seem to recall something about a cat getting hit by a car? Idk
posted by Existential Dread at 7:11 PM on May 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


I seem to recall something about a cat getting hit by a car?

That's an element that isn't in the original book for the musical. But perhaps Hooper will work with that to give his film some narrative tension.
posted by hippybear at 7:17 PM on May 6, 2016


This must be something genetic like like/dislike cilantro, I having a fantastic time, not caring about the plot (plot?), not particularly following the lyrics, don't remember Memories, but giant leaping, preening, singing and dancing kitties! What's not to love?
posted by sammyo at 7:33 PM on May 6, 2016 [2 favorites]


No, see, guys, here's what they're going to do which is going to make this even worse than you're imagining -

It won't be costumed people. It'll be voiceover actors and CGI cats.

....search your feelings, you know it to be true.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:39 PM on May 6, 2016 [9 favorites]


Meesa McCavity!
posted by warriorqueen at 8:01 PM on May 6, 2016 [4 favorites]


I grew up with my father reading to me from Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats at bedtimes. My family took me to see Cats when I was, uh, 11 maybe, for my birthday. I remember liking it. We also had the album, so I knew the tunes and still do. So both the original text and the musical are nostalgically potent for me. I'm not a Weber fan in general but Cats is just too emotionally entangled for me not to have a soft spot for it.

I do make an effort to avoid over-Weberian cadences when reading Eliot's poetry though, which I do surprisingly often, since my sweet little Kokopelli often needs to be told about his fellow kitties. Today's text was "The Rum Tug Tugger", chosen to reflect his ambivalence about either going outdoors or coming inside once out.
posted by jackbishop at 8:22 PM on May 6, 2016 [3 favorites]


OP here: If you don't like the play, maybe find another thread?
posted by schmod at 8:23 PM on May 6, 2016 [3 favorites]


It won't be costumed people. It'll be voiceover actors and CGI cats.

....search your feelings, you know it to be true.


That's impossible NOOOOO! *cuts off own hand and jumps down central ventilation shaft*
posted by hippybear at 8:25 PM on May 6, 2016 [3 favorites]


"The thing about Cats, which was made clear by the 1998 movie version is that it isn't a musical. It's a dance recital. That cast members might sing or there might be some staging or some imagined through-story is beside the point. "

Yeah, I've met multiple people who've walked out of Cats, and I makes me wonder. I mean, you're going to go hear some pretty good singers sing perfectly serviceable ALW, sometimes with clever lyrics, with no particular plot, while grown-ass adults in cat suits do some quite acrobatic dancing. Did they just not know what they were buying tickets for? Do they walk out halfway through Cirque de Soleil? Not being snippy -- totally understand how it's not to some people's taste, totally DON'T understand why you would then buy tickets for it unless you had zero idea what it was. (I feel like you probably already know about yourself whether "grown-ass adults in cat suits, singing" is your sort of thing or not.) But every walker-outer I've asked has just laughed and proclaimed it terrible with no further explanation so I remain mystified.

Count me as another one whose childhood was too infected by the music to make any rational judgment about quality at this late date. But I've seen it a couple of times in the theater and it was a perfectly nice caberet of loosely connected songs each time. More like a concert than a "musical" but perfectly charming.

I would still probably trade my legs to Ursula the Sea Witch for a voice that could really belt out "Memory."
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:40 PM on May 6, 2016 [10 favorites]


I like Cats well enough - it's ridiculous (and the comment about it basically being a dance recital is dead on) but it's a lot of fun. But my favorite thing about Cats is that I have an ex who hates it.

Like, the news that it's going to have a revival and a movie will probably make him lose his god. damn. mind.

I am a petty person sometimes. Rather like a cat, actually.
posted by FritoKAL at 9:50 PM on May 6, 2016 [6 favorites]


I have never seen Cats, but I have looked around the net to find out what it is about. Let us begin, as such searches usually do, at the PEDE:

Wikipedia, Cats (musical): "The musical tells the story of a tribe of cats called the Jellicles and the night they make what is known as 'the Jellicle choice' and decide which cat will ascend to the Heaviside Layer and come back to a new life."

Jellicle? Ascend? I've read somewhere that Jellicle is actually a corruption of Evangelical, which poses that the whole thing is a religious allusion. Huh.

What does Heaviside Layer mean then?

Wikipedia, Kennelly-Heaviside layer (redirected from Heaviside Layer): "The Kennelly–Heaviside layer, named after Arthur E. Kennelly and Oliver Heaviside, also known as the E region or simply the Heaviside layer, is a layer of ionised gas occurring between roughly 90–150 km (56–93 mi) above the ground — one of several layers in the Earth's ionosphere. It reflects medium-frequency radio waves, and because of this reflection, radio waves can be propagated beyond the horizon."

𝒴𝒜𝒜𝒴 𝒩𝒪𝒯ℋℐ𝒩𝒢 ℋ𝒜𝒮 ℬℰℰ𝒩 ℒℰ𝒜ℛ𝒩ℰ𝒟 ℬ𝒜𝒞𝒦 𝒯𝒪 𝒫ℒ𝒜𝒴ℐ𝒩𝒢 𝒱ℐ𝒟ℰ𝒪𝒢𝒜ℰℳ𝒮
posted by JHarris at 10:10 PM on May 6, 2016 [2 favorites]


I would still probably trade my legs to Ursula the Sea Witch for a voice that could really belt out "Memory."

Holy shit, yes this.

When I was in my early 20s I said during a very stoned and drunken night that I hoped that if there was reincarnation I would come back as a black woman who could fuckin' bring down the house with a gospel song. I still sort of think that.
posted by hippybear at 10:11 PM on May 6, 2016


"What could be more dull than these sordid back-slapping sessions where has-beens in tuxedos hand over to even older has-beens in tuxedos awards for plays that closed the week before they opened because the audiences were clamoring instead for tickets to Andrew Lloyd Webber's latest rearrangement of Puccini's greatest hits?"
-- Rowan Atkinson, "The Good Loser"

I saw Cats when a touring company brought it to Kansas City. Yes, yes, no plot, which I'll admit I missed, but the spectacle was sufficient to keep me seated. Except after "Memory," when I stood with everyone else and beat my palms numb in appreciation for the thrilling performance we had just heard.

(And sometimes I'll get part of "The Rum-Tum Tugger" in my head when I'm feeling a little cocky and am getting my own way about something.)
posted by bryon at 11:44 PM on May 6, 2016


I caught a few clips of the John Adams miniseries on YouTube once, out of curiosity. "Ah," I realized, "the uploader must have rotated the footage to circumvent YouTube's video recognition system! They've overshot, of course—that's a ridiculous degree to tilt the picture—but that can't be helped. Better safe than sorry, when it comes to copyright infringement."

It was a perfectly reasonable mistake.
posted by KChasm at 3:31 AM on May 7, 2016


Did they just not know what they were buying tickets for? Do they walk out halfway through Cirque de Soleil? Not being snippy -- totally understand how it's not to some people's taste, totally DON'T understand why you would then buy tickets for it unless you had zero idea what it was.

You would be surprised at the number of Broadway patrons for whom this was probably exactly the case. A lot of the Broadway crowd is comprised of tourists, who "see a show on Broadway" not because they've heard about the show and are theater buffs, but rather because it's a "New York" thing, like seeing the Eiffel Tower in Paris or the beefeaters in London. Maybe they've got a stage-struck kid who's been listening to the cast album and knows all the songs, but not necessarily the plot.

So they're in New York finally - and they've waited to get in line at the TKTS booth, because they know it's cheaper - and they're looking at the list of offerings and realizing that they don't really know what any of the shows are about. So they go for something they at least heard exists, or maybe this is the show their kid has the cast album for...or they heard it's popular. MAYBE they will ask the clerk what it's about, but the clerk is too busy and too aware of the line behind them to elaborate and will only tell them "it's got singing cats, you'll love it."

And thus do you get people who go to see CATS without knowing anything about it.

Before I moved here to New York, my family was one such family and visited New York about four or five times, and I think we went into at least three shows totally blind.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:25 AM on May 7, 2016 [5 favorites]


As a young boy in Springfield, Mass, in the 1980s, Broadway Cats was barely in my orbit.
We got one over the air station from New Haven, and it showed commercials for Cats (at the Winter Garden theatre! Now and forever!). These strange images of cat people singing and dancing in smoke, from New York... broadcasting from yet another foreign world, interrupting the Saturday afternoon movie, or GLOW or WWF. Cartoons interrupting cartoons... no context at all.

Unless it never happened, and the confusion is only in my memory.

I had no idea of what it was, and nobody to ask. Was it a movie? Why did it look so cheap? Why so unnerving? Broadway itself was this samizdat.... Lay miz? Phantom? A secret shared world with no entry point.

If only I knew.

Cats, now and forever.
posted by gregglind at 5:09 AM on May 7, 2016


OP here: If you don't like the play, maybe find another thread?

It's Cats. Isn't hating on it at least little an essential part of loving it?

That dissonance of feelings is part of what makes ALW awesome (in both the "this is great" and the "Chthulu" sense of the word) .
posted by sparklemotion at 6:34 AM on May 7, 2016 [2 favorites]


When I first saw this news, I misread the director as Tobe Hooper.
I would watch that version of Cats.


Not the strangest idea. When we watched the DVD of the Powell/Pressburger 1961 musical 'Tales of Hoffmann', there was a DVD extra something-something-"Hooper" and I was like, does that sound like the same name as the Chainsaw Massacre guy? It was. Tobe Hooper did a candid short interview explaining how 'The Tales of Hoffmann' was a big influence on him.
posted by ovvl at 7:11 AM on May 7, 2016


There's a weird thing about Andrew Lloyd Webber in German-speaking countries to the extent they built a special venue called the Starlighthalle in Bochum, Germany to house a permanent production of Starlight Express that's been running for 28 years. I don't really understand it.

I always assumed that had less to do with ALW and more to do with a deep abiding love of trains.

And a rollerblading disco-gospel finale send up to James Watt, I guess? Such a weird show.
posted by deludingmyself at 8:21 AM on May 7, 2016 [3 favorites]


Surprisingly, I'd never heard of Starlight Express, but as far as I can surmise, it's the fake musical from the Wet Hot American Summer TV Show.

which I would totally watch
posted by schmod at 9:56 AM on May 7, 2016


So.... I just listened to the 1993 recording of Starlight Express.

What..... the hell was that?
posted by schmod at 11:15 AM on May 7, 2016 [5 favorites]


The fastest show on earth?

Actually, people have concluded Hamilton is damn fast, but just you wait for Hamilton on Ice and it will be physically the fastest too.
posted by zachlipton at 11:21 AM on May 7, 2016 [2 favorites]


So.... I just listened to the 1993 recording of Starlight Express.

What..... the hell was that?


Does it help to know that Andrew Lloyd Weber wanted to license Thomas the Tank Engine to make a musical out of it, but Rev. Wilbert Awdry (the author of the Thomas books) wouldn't give him permission because he thought it would be too racy?
posted by deludingmyself at 11:25 AM on May 7, 2016


Starlight Express is one of the strangest musicals. It's basically the theater musical equivalent of a CGI spectacle. I seem to remember there was some sort of minor scandal related to some fairly racist elements in the original book, but I can't find any evidence of this online (hard to find stuff from 1984 online) and I think it all got written out pretty quickly as the show was restaged and refined.

I suppose it is worth mentioning here that ALW did the music for what is possibly the second hottest ticket on Broadway right now, School Of Rock.
posted by hippybear at 11:28 AM on May 7, 2016 [1 favorite]


Or here, here's Angela Lansbury trying to contextualize it for you at the 1987 Tony Awards. The important thing to know is that the Starlight Express is the magical negro anthropomorphic rollerskating train in all of us.
posted by deludingmyself at 11:30 AM on May 7, 2016


Oh my god. Did ALW just tell the costume designer "Like Cats, but trains this time"?
posted by schmod at 1:17 PM on May 7, 2016 [2 favorites]


he thought it would be too racy

I see what you did there
posted by phoenixy at 1:31 AM on May 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


Oh, I found this YouTube promo video for the Starlight Halle in Germany. Very surreal to hear country music and Southern accents in German. But based on it, I can see why they made a theater especially for that show. Because it's AWESOME. Someone make a movie of that, instead of Cats! Actually, better yet, someone make a copy in Vegas. I bet it'd do great. [Also -- there's no trash-talking of ALW in our household. Jesus Christ Superstar is a genuinely great musical and nothing can take that away from us.]
posted by phoenixy at 1:57 AM on May 8, 2016 [2 favorites]




I think I prefer the German version of Starlight Express. All the catchy tunes, without the constant reminders that you're listening to Thomas the Tank Engine (plus a love story).
posted by zachlipton at 4:45 PM on May 8, 2016


My reaction when I heard this news....."If you were to ask me which musical I would LEAST be interested in seeing made into a film, I'm almost 100% sure I'd say Cats. "

And I LOVED Cats when I was 10. Seriously. I still have the whole thing memorized somewhere in the back of my brain. I adore the T.S. Elliot source material. But I ended up at a local (but very professional) production of Cats about 10 years ago and it was just SO BAD and so boring my mom and I got up and left at intermission. (She had bought tickets to take a child as a first theater experience, they couldn't make it, so I was bribed with dinner to go with her.)
posted by threeturtles at 10:10 PM on May 8, 2016


Also, when I lived in New York I once found myself at the TKTS booth in Times Square beset by confused tourists asking me about Cats and what it was about and would they like it and "Is it appropriate for children." My theater nerd boyfriend starting sneering and I just assured the woman that yes, it's a good show for kids.

So yeah, tourists buy tickets to shows all the time with no idea what they're going in to. But apparently so do rich people, from the reports of people who are still showing up for Hamilton with no idea what it's about or that it's rap. And you know they paid a LOT of money to be there.
posted by threeturtles at 10:15 PM on May 8, 2016


It wasn't the greatest thing I'd ever seen on stage, but it wasn't the worst. A light confection of a musical on the whole. Did suffer from only having a single great song, though.
posted by tavella at 9:30 AM on May 9, 2016


When I was in college marching band, our base of operations were some rooms in the basement of the main campus auditorium. To me, Cats was this touring company that invaded our auditorium. They did lots of day shows for school groups, as well as at night for the general public. We were asked to keep down the volume when they were around. The admonishment, "Shhhhh, Cats!" turned into an inside joke.
posted by ZeusHumms at 6:55 AM on May 10, 2016 [2 favorites]


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