Everyone has heard of Cats, the musical. It is one of the longest running Broadway shows in history, and its actors wear distinctive cat costumes that are hard to confuse with anything else. If you want to know more about Cats, you are in the right place. We're breaking down the plot (yes, Cats has a plot) so it'll be easier for you to understand what the heck is going on. WARNING: SPOILER ALERT.
Where Did 'Cats' Come From?
Cats is a musical composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber that is based on the book by T. S. Eliot titled Old Possum's Book Of Practical Cats. The book, which is a collection of poems, was published in 1939. Webber started composing music to the poems in 1977 and the producer recruited a director and choreographer to make the poems into a musical. Four years later, the musical was ready and went to Broadway. It ran until 2000, then was revived again in 2016 and put on 593 performances.
Does It Actually Have A Plot?
Apparently, most people think that Cats doesn't have a plot (see Cats movie actor Idris Elba from the movie struggle to explain the movie's plot at 6:36 in this video). But contrary to popular opinion, it does have a plot, and I'm here to explain it to you.
Act I – When Cats Are Maddened by the Midnight Dance
The musical opens to a junkyard, on a special night when once a year the cats gather together to celebrate their community, the Jellicle tribe. Almost immediately they break the fourth wall and introduce the different cats of the tribe, singing about their traits and giving the audience a general understanding of who each cat is.
After this, it's time for the Jellicle Ball to take place. Victoria, a young white cat central to the play, signals this through a dance. Then Munkustrap, the principle narrator, explains that the Jellicle patriarch Old Deuteronomy will be coming tonight to choose one cat to be reborn and go to the Heaviside Layer (cat heaven). What follows is a series of songs and dance sung by cats that wish demonstrate why they should be chosen.
Munkstrap introduces the first contendor, Jennyanydots, a lazy cat who likes to sleep. As she finishes her dance, Rum Tum Tugger, the rockstar cat, begins his dance. After his dance, one of the main characters begins her dance: Grizabella, the Glamour Cat. She is old, haggard, and her former glory days are only memories now. The other cats recoil from her and she finishes her dance. Then Bustopher Jones, an elite fat cat who visits gentleman's clubs, comes on and does his dance.
Suddenly, a crash startles the cats and they all scurry off stage. Enter Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer, twin cats who enjoy causing trouble in the neighborhood. Finally, Old Deuteronomy arrives and all the cats put on a play for him. Another crash briefly interrupts the play, but nothing is found, and it continues. After this, the Jellicle Ball commences. During the Jellicle Ball, Grizabella tries to join in and dance with the other cats, but she is too old and decrepit, and the other cats shun her.
Act II – Why Will the Summer Day Delay – When Will Time Flow Away?
After the Jellicle Ball, Old Deuteronomy ponders on what happiness is, but the other cats don't understand, so he gets Jemima, the younest cat, to explain it to the others. After this, Gus, an old retired actor cat, reminisces about a play he once performed in. Then, Skimbleshanks, a cat who is responsible for the operation of the train to Glasgow, sings about his life. Suddenly, a third crash sounds and Macavity appears, whose henchmen kidnap Old Deuteronomy. While the other cats chase after them, two cats explain to the audience what they know about Macavity. Soon, Macavity returns, dressed as Old Deuteronomy, but the other cats figure him out and chase him off stage. As this happens, Macavity shorts the stage lights and the cats are in darkness.
After the fight, Rum Tum Tugger calls on Mr. Mistoffelees, the magician cat, who performs a song and dance, then restores the light and brings back Old Deuteronomy. Before he can make his decision, Grizabella performs the most famous song of the musical, Memory, explaining her plight to the other cats. The cats feel sympathy for her, and Old Deuteronomy chooses Grizabella to go to Heaviside Layer. She is lifted away on a flying car tire.
And There You Have It
So, there it is: the plot of cats in all it's glory (or not...). If you can't be bothered watching the musical, or don't have the money to watch a musical, keep your eyes peeled for the Cats movie that will be released in December 2019. Although it's already controversial, and people are questioning whether Cats belongs on the screen as well as the stage, that's another decision for you to decide. There's a lot from Cats you can experience without actually going to the theater, from the playlist to the plot to videos of the performance. Now that you know the plot, you can decide where you want to go from here. Meow.
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