I should probably mention that I am not talking about the animal cat in this blog post, like the ones you have for pets. Although our cat, Garfield, is quite the character (he thinks he is royalty) and I could write about him. This is not the post for that.
I want to talk to talk about the musical Cats by Andrew Lloyd Webber. I remember having the VHS of this musical growing up. My brother loved it and would watch it on repeat. Myself, on the other hand, didn’t get it. The beginning seemed cool. Wait, what?! Cat’s have different names?! What is this? Tell me more!
They didn’t. They just went off explaining how cats have more than one name and giving examples. As a child, I didn’t enjoy slow songs and the moment they started singing about Grizabella I was out. My interest was officially lost. Also, WHERE WAS THE SPEAKING?! Gosh, haven’t these cats heard about sentence structure and conversations? Why was everything a song? What did this even mean?
So most of my childhood, I knew three things. 1) Cats was a musical. 2) One that I was not particularly fond of. 3) There was zero dialogue and that was weird. It made me weary about musicals because I liked dialogue and conversations and dang it, I wanted that in a musical. Cats gave me a skewed idea of musicals and I basically avoided them until 7th grade.
Fast forward to freshmen in college Ashleigh. She’s more mature, has gained life experience, isn’t totally clueless like she was as a child. I’m introduced to Phantom of the Opera (!!!!) and decide to give Cats another try. My uncle was telling me that I was missing something. And missing something, I was. I was missing out on the magic of the musical Cats.
Once I sat down and actually paid attention to what was happening during the songs, things started to make sense. I started to appreciate the fact that the musical didn’t include any dialogue. That was the main part of the magic of this musical for me. I loved figuring out everything for myself and through each song. Macavity? He’s the bad guy. He just isn’t a name they shout when the music gets dramatic (like I previously thought). Also, Macavity is my favorite cat. He has a total of like 4 minutes of screen time and they are awesome. One day, one of my characters in a story will have a cat named Macavity, you heard it here first.
Fast forward to last month where a trailer for a new Cats movie dropped. What?! YES! A modern Cats, sign me up. I got so excited waiting for the trailer to load. Seeing the cast list also got me excited.
Then I saw the trailer and now I’m concerned. Why is Victoria suddenly becoming a main character? Wait, are they talking? There are actual words in this movie! Cool! Wait, no. They didn’t talk in the musical. That is what I eventually loved about it. Wait.
Back when I finally watched the full musical and discovered that it was magical and everything was great about it, I watched every bit of the special features I had. I watched the director’s thoughts, the behind the scenes, the figuring out how to make the movie and how they picked their cast, all of it. I watched it all. Every single second, I’m not even kidding. I was obsessed.
The one thing that stuck out to me was when Andrew Lloyd Webber was talking about how he got the rights to Cats (from T.S. Eliot’s wife), he mentions that Eliot wouldn’t give the rights to Disney and he thought there was no way he would get them from the wife. Eliot didn’t give Disney rights for a movie because he was afraid the cats would be too pretty. Webber got the rights because he wasn’t going to make the cats pretty, these were street cats. Cats the musical was born from the text of the poems. That is what I was thinking about as I watched the trailer. This little memory I had of all the behind the scenes footage I watched.
I’m trying to keep an open mind, but now I understand why the older generations dislike when modern remakes get all the attention from classic films. I get that you cannot make a movie without dialogue but I’m afraid the dialogue will change things. I don’t know. This is trying to keep an open mind. I’ll still be in theaters watching it.
Although, I did recently learn that Universal Pictures has owned the film adaption rights for a while now, and Webber is involved with the movie so maybe I’m overreacting.
(Said no fan of something. Ever.)