Cats, the worst stage musical ever conceived - it was conceived by Andrew Lloyd Webber, of course - is returning to Broadway.
Cats, which opened on Broadway in 1982, a year after its London premiere, unleashed an era of musicals, mostley British, with lavish music, gaudy sets, and thin plots. Cats is loosely based on T.S. Eliot's Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats, a collection of light poetry that Lloyd Webber turned into a story about picking a cat to die and be reborn into "the Heavyside Layer," death being one of his favorite subjects. (Evita, anyone?) But its heavy-sided vulgarity only killed Anglophonic musical theater.
I had the misfortune of seeing the original Broadway production with my mother and sister seven months after it first opened, and my sister and I hated - I mean, really hated - the show. My mother inexplicably liked it, saying it was a parable about the sin of old age. The real sin was the time I can never get back that I wasted seeing this. Not only was the staging vulgar, the singing intolerable, and the music melodramatic, but during intermission some of the cast members - all made up to look like Kiss drummer Peter Criss circa 1975 after a bad hair day - went into the seats on all fours and rubbed themselves against the pant legs of people in the audience as they were getting up to stretch their legs or go to the loo. After what these actors did on people's pants, can you imagine what people did in their pants?
How much do I hate this musical? When I feature on my beautiful women picture blog a stage actress who appeared in Cats, I leave that detail out of the accompanying text . . . except for when I featured "Fresh Prince of Bel Air" star Janet Hubert, because, well, I had to, as she was in the original Broadway cast. (Betty Buckley? No, I haven't featured her on my blog, and I have no plans to feature her at present.) Even if Cats is a stage actress's biggest claim to fame I don't mention it if I feature her on my beautiful women picture blog. Cats is that bad.
So, anyway, previews for this new production of Cats begin on this day, July 14, at the Neil Simon Theatre - talk about damage to an esteemed name! - and it opens on August 2. That blissful sixteen-year interlude between the original Broadway production and the revival - which was shorter than the original production's eighteen-year run, I'd like to add - is coming to an end. I only hope that this revival doesn't last nearly as long, lest it make Broadway more overblown than it already is.
I think a character on "How I Met Your Mother" summed up my feelings best: "Cats . . . hated the musical, love the animal."
And a second-person note to Janet Hubert, who lives in my area . . . no, you didn't rub against my pant leg, I didn't let anyone do that.