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September 1, 2020

What The Hellicle Cats?

Josh Sippie

Or, an unnecessary review of Cats, the Musical

 

I’ve never had any real desire to see the musical Cats. But something about entering ticket lotteries is fun. My wife and I enter every ticket lottery every chance we get and we never win anything. It’s just a habit at this point.

But then one day we actually won a lottery. To see Cats. Unfortunately, we were both sick and couldn’t go. Why did we enter then, you might ask? Like I said, we had no intention of winning.

We kept entering. A week later, we won the lottery again. To see Cats. So we just accepted that God really wanted us to see this show and we went. I’ve seen a good share of Broadways shows and never felt the urge to write a review. But Cats needs a review.

I’m still not sure what I took out of Cats aside from a souvenir, $11 dollar cup that still smells like Alleycat Amber Ale. I have not looked up any cats’ name’s for spelling, I’m going to wing it. And I haven’t googled any lyrics or plot points (spoiler, there weren’t (m)any).

In the opening act, they sing their token song, Jellicle Cats. It’s catchy, but it makes no sense, and I’m a cat owner. I thought it would be like, an inside joke for cat owners. It’s not. What is a Jellicle Cat?

As if reading my mind, they stopped the number and one cat steps out and says “what’s that, a man out there doesn’t know what a jellicle cat is?”

I thought about raising my hand. I was that man.

“Well let me tell you!” he said. Now we’re getting somewhere, chorus cat.

And then they broke into the chorus “jellicle stands for jellicle cats.”

Anyway, back to the story, which I’m still looking for.

It’s pretty much just a meet and greet. You’ll meet all kinds of cats and probably only remember four or five of their names.

It starts with the lazy cat who lives in the trunk of a car and can’t catch mice, yet she tap dances like James Cagney.

Then there is the gluttonous cat, who eats and eats and eats and walks off the stage.

Then every cat stops and awaits the coming of the feline Messiah, Deuteronomy (like the book of the Bible), who looks like the Wild Thing from Where The Wild Things Are. Apparently he calls a ball (maybe that’s why everyone is dancing) for the cats to judge what cat needs to be reborn (is that a plot I’m detecting?). I guess all these cats we’ve been meeting are auditioning to be “reborn”. Pretty twisted if you think about it.

After that casual plot introduction midway into the play, we get back to meeting more cats that you’ll probably forget about. There’s the old, former fashion model cat who I think was named Grisabella. She seems nice but everyone indiscriminately hates her and hisses at her and she’s sad about it.

There’s the cat who wears a vest, drinks tea (so he claims, I never saw any tea) and lives on a train. He seemed like a swell dude. Really polite.

There’s the devious duo of Rumpleteaser and Mungo Jerry, who I think steal swag, given the bags they carried labeled “swag”.

There is the bedazzled cat (Rumtum Tugger?) that looks like David Bowie. Turns out that, despite his popularity among the feline community, he’s just the hype man for the wonderful Mr. Mistophelees, who, by the way, is pretty damn wonderful. I think, as I write, he is still pirouetting in his vest that was more lit up than my entire array of Christmas decorations this year.

Then there is the cat Asparagus, who is known as Gus. He’s an actor. And he’s old. Probably needs to be reborn and looked to be the early favorite. Plus, everyone likes him despite snidely making fun of him behind his back.

There’s Mycavity, a real shady dude. He breaks stuff and peaces out.

And look, Grisabella came back and everyone still hates her. But teddy bear Deuteronomy is like, “back off, she gets reborn,” and then everyone loves her. But I’m not sure if she is really reborn of if her levitating into the rafters was just a pleasant way of showing her dying.

Cue the applause.

I was horribly disappointed when I returned home to my cats and discovered that they don’t tap dance, sing, or even wear vests. They do break stuff and disappear though. And maybe they’re jellicle cats, since I don’t actually know what a jellicle cat is. Still.