With the undying passion that I have for CATS The Musical, many presume me to be a theater junkie. I do love musicals, but I am not knowledgeable about the vast majority of them.
I appreciate the wide variety of talent and human ingenuity that goes into musical theater, but there’s something about CATS that has always pulled at me with more depth.
To the true-blue theater people out there, this probably seems ironic given that CATS has a bad wrap (according to those less cultured) for possessing little to no real plot line.
Every person I’ve ever shown it to says something along the lines of -“What did I just watch?” As if I’ve just wasted two hours of their lives with nonsense. Haha!
But, my personal history with the show began at a time when nonsense was simply reality.
I was probably 6 years old when I watched CATS on VHS for the first time.
Every kid has that movie that they watch over, and over, and over again. For me, it was CATS.
I don’t have many solid childhood memories that early on, but I distinctly remember popping in that tape and being whisked away into that world I believed was real somewhere.
It was a world I was sure I could be a part of if I tried hard enough. In the world of CATS, nothing was impossible. Not flying, not magic, not even stepping into the stars was off the table.
It was love at first watch.
In middle school, I planned with my friends to go see it live as soon as it came out on tour. Which, it never came.
In high school, I was sure it would be back on Broadway just in time for my senior trip. Which, it wasn’t. Plus, I was broke.
It was one of my favorite talking points with my new best friend earlier in my twenties.
On hard days, when learning to be a grown-up was too much, I just fired up our Blu-ray player and sang along with my CATS until the day faded.
Once, I even watched it twice in one day.
It’s one of those things in my life that just makes me feel like me.
And Saturday, after years of waiting, I got to see it LIVE!
There was not one empty seat in the towering palace of the Aronoff Center that day.
I squeezed past many knees and clear cups of alcohol to reach that long awaited chair of my dreams.
And then, there it was – the junkyard, and the Jellicle moon in its seemingly nonsensical glory.
It looked so out of place in the midst of the towering ceiling, private boxes, and crowd of people dressed in their Sunday best.
How much more impractical can you get than to have a junkyard sitting in the middle of high society?
When the lights dimmed for the first time, I stopped my breath dead in its tracks.
I sat on the edge of my seat, not knowing what was going to happen next…
Suddenly, I was in that world I had dreamed of. Where people who aren’t people could fly, create magic, and step into the stars.
And every scene, every move, every flash of light inflated my lungs with thrill.
Gasping was a way of life.
The characters I’d watched in two dimensions my entire life, came and danced in the realm of three with me.
I was in the same room as Munkustrap, Victoria, Grizabella, Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer, Bumbulurina, and even McCavity!
And they hadn’t aged a day.
I was a child again, glued to the fantasy and magic. I became rapt in awe of what the human form is capable of.
I laughed wildly at each audacity and grinned from soul’s lips at every playful air and grace.
Perhaps, my imagination leapt as far above the ground as the cats, who defied gravity.
My heart pressed into its cage of bones when Grizabella released her anguish at the climax of “Memory” and fell to the ground in total humility and surrender.
And I saw myself there, in my room, lamenting just as she.
The woman to my left wept, and the heaviness hung in hundreds of breaths simultaneously.
The finale came, and with the last pounding of orchestral drums, my heart rang in my chest.
I stood and cheered so passionately, but felt so small in the crowd.
It felt so small a thanks to the cast and crew for the experience they had just gifted me.
For a moment, a little girl lived again-the one bouncing in her chair, not caring of the onlookers.
There are moments such as these, that are eternal.
Maybe not in the land of the physical.
Maybe not even in the land of the spiritual.
But there are moments that live on forever.
Impressed for eternity upon the hearts of those who were there. What great value in creating such moments.
Let the memory live over, and over, and over again.