As I’ve written about before, Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber’s YouTube channel is displaying one of his works for free over these coronavirus weekends (in the East Coast Time Zone, from 2:00 PM Friday May 15 – 2:00 PM Sunday May 17). This weekend’s production is the musical Cats.
I really like Cats. But you have to realize it is not your run-of-the-mill musical. It is based on a series of poems about cats by one of my favorite poets, the 1939 edition of Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats by T. S. Eliot. That book is just a bunch of poetic gems about the nature of cats that those of us who cohabitate with one or more of said creatures (four in our house, thank you very much) will recognize as capturing their diverse and unique personalities. However, it doesn’t attempt to tell a story; it is just a bunch of different poems on the same topic.
It is a testament to Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber that he was able to turn this into a successful Broadway production. As a literature teacher, I love Cats because it is primarily based on a bunch of poems. But I also love Cats because it is pretty unusual for Broadway musicals because it really is based on showcasing the dancers rather than the singers. Most of the songs, while lovely, don’t require extreme vocal abilities. Almost all of the roles, however, require incredible dancing abilities. Enjoy the music, but really focus on the dancing, because most normal human beings can’t move their bodies in that way. The dancing in AMAZING! There is, of course, the requisite blockbuster ballad, “Memories,” which is given to a performer who…doesn’t dance. Because let’s be real–you can’t expect someone to be dancing at incredible levels to be singing at incredible levels. It’s usually one or the other, and Sir Andrew managed this in a really remarkable way.
This is why I knew the recent movie edition of Cats would be a disaster (OK, I didn’t see it, but I’m basing that assessment on the reviews). It was loaded with very talented performers, but only one? maybe was an outstanding dancer, a couple maybe were good dancers, and most of them where just not….dancers (I’m basing this on Broadway standards…meaning all of them are better than I am, but then, I’m not starring in a Broadway musical movie). I just thought it was a profound misinterpretation of the glory of this musical–the rare time that put the dancing first and the singing second.
So if you say the movie and didn’t like it, this is a chance to see it as it was originally envisioned. And if you didn’t see the movie (as I didn’t), it is a chance to see the production in its dancing magnificence…for free, but just for this weekend.
Here is the promo:
And here is the show:
Just remember–these dancers make their dance movements seem easy and natural.
THEY ARE NOT! Worship these performers, for they are dance gods/goddesses!
If you can, afford to donate, please support the following arts organizations chosen by Sir Andrew:
Donate to NHS Charities COVID19 Appeal: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fund/…