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Can you call "Cats" a musical?

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Can you call "Cats" a musical?#0
Posted: 5/27/06 at 6:41am
I recently went to see the show and thought that it was more kind of a revue...
Because in my way of thinking the word "musical", afer all a short cut for "musical play" or "musical comedy", implies dialogues, which Cats doesn't have at all or some kind of story, which Cats lacks, too.
To me it looked like a great opportunity for talented dancers/singers to prove their abilities, as well as for set designers/ lighting designers etc.
But a "musical" in the original sense of the word? What do you think?
I'm the german Ethel Merman, don't you know... ;-)
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re: Can you call 'Cats' a musical?#1
Posted: 5/27/06 at 7:20am
I think it's a musical because it does have songs in it.
Just because I got the lead doesn't mean you can't be my understudy!:)
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re: Can you call 'Cats' a musical?#2
Posted: 5/27/06 at 7:52am
A revue often contains songs, too!
Same thing with operas (though you call it Aria here)...
I'm the german Ethel Merman, don't you know... ;-)
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re: Can you call 'Cats' a musical?#3
Posted: 5/27/06 at 8:47am
I have a new answer. It's a musical because before 'Phantom' it was the longest running MUSICAL in Broadway history.
Just because I got the lead doesn't mean you can't be my understudy!:)
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re: Can you call 'Cats' a musical?#4
Posted: 5/27/06 at 8:48am
Yes. It's in a theatre and the cast sings. Why wouldn't it be?
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re: Can you call 'Cats' a musical?#5
Posted: 5/27/06 at 10:05am
first of all...

"It's a musical because before 'Phantom' it was the longest running MUSICAL in Broadway history."

major kudos, elphaba. this show's extremely underappreciated.

second, it's most definitely a musical. for one thing, its quite challenging to find a revue show that succeeds at establishing a plot (if you're clever enough to figure it out.. not hard). If i had to classify Cats as anything but a musical it would probably have to be an operetta.
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re: Can you call 'Cats' a musical?#6
Posted: 5/27/06 at 10:29am
I call it a "mew-sical"!
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re: Can you call 'Cats' a musical?#7
Posted: 5/27/06 at 10:30am
Yes CATS is a musical.
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re: Can you call 'Cats' a musical?#8
Posted: 5/27/06 at 10:50am
if you're clever enough to figure it out.. not hard

Thank you very much re: Can you call 'Cats' a musical?... Of course it has a main IDEA (rebirth of one of the cats etc...) but you can't call this a story, because they don't do anything to figure out who is gonna be the cat which will be reborn - they could just ask Old Deuteronomy. And that Deuteronomy disappears for about 5 minutes is just there to invite the magical cat (forgot its name)...

I mean it's more general: What IS a musical? Is it really enough to have people who sing and dance on a stage? Or people coming to it (for the "it's the longest running show" etc.-agrgument)?
I'm the german Ethel Merman, don't you know... ;-)
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re: Can you call 'Cats' a musical?#9
Posted: 5/27/06 at 10:56am
Yes, it is very much a musical. And I hate the whole, "Cats does not have a plot" argument. Here is the plot for you:

Every year, these Jellicle Cats have a Jellicle ball where they gather and Old Deuteronomy (symbolic of God) decides who among them are worthy enough to be reborn again and live another life. Throughout the musical, the cats introduce themselves and each other to show Old Deuteronomy and the audience why they are the best candidate to be born again, but it is Grizabella who has won that honor because she has lived a full life and is now shuned by all of the cats (Symbolic of "The meek shall inherit"). To me, Macavity represents Satan or something similar by trying to cause the Jellicle ball to be stopped by kidnapping Old Deuteronomy so no cat is chosen to be reborn.

Now, I thought of that within 5 minutes of sitting here. So, yes . . . there is a plot and it is a musical.
"They're eating her and then they're going to eat me. OH MY GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOD!!!!" -Troll 2
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re: Can you call 'Cats' a musical?#10
Posted: 5/27/06 at 10:59am
Well, COMPANY is nothing but an idea. Even in the PBS special about Broadway, Sondheim says that there is no underlying plot. It is just snap shots within a man's life. So, would you call that a musical?
"They're eating her and then they're going to eat me. OH MY GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOD!!!!" -Troll 2
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re: Can you call 'Cats' a musical?#11
Posted: 5/27/06 at 11:01am
My idea of "revue" is something that has sketches intertwined with songs. Sugar Babies would be a revue.
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re: Can you call 'Cats' a musical?#12
Posted: 5/27/06 at 11:03am
Also, A CHORUS LINE is similar to CATS in many aspects. All these people are fighting to be in this show and they each tell their personal stories, hoping that Michael will choose them to be in his chorus line. Yes, it hits a more personal chord to people because these characters are "real" and not cats and you can understand at least one of these people's struggles and life stories. But, in aspects, it is the very similar with the concept of an "idea."
"They're eating her and then they're going to eat me. OH MY GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOD!!!!" -Troll 2
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re: Can you call 'Cats' a musical?#13
Posted: 5/27/06 at 11:05am
Any theatrical production where the cast sings is a musical, no matter how developed the plot. So both Company and Cats are musicals.
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re: Can you call 'Cats' a musical?#14
Posted: 5/27/06 at 11:07am
Yes, COMPANY is very much a musical. That was my point. Just because it lacks one or two elements of other "musicals," does not mean it is not a musical.

"They're eating her and then they're going to eat me. OH MY GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOD!!!!" -Troll 2
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re: Can you call 'Cats' a musical?#15
Posted: 5/27/06 at 11:07am
Double the post, Double the pleasure!
"They're eating her and then they're going to eat me. OH MY GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOD!!!!" -Troll 2
Updated On: 5/27/06 at 11:07 AM
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re: Can you call 'Cats' a musical?#16
Posted: 5/27/06 at 11:07am
I can call 'Cats' whatever I want to call 'Cats' thank you very much.
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re: Can you call 'Cats' a musical?#17
Posted: 5/27/06 at 11:08am
hahaha. Well, HUZZAH!!
"They're eating her and then they're going to eat me. OH MY GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOD!!!!" -Troll 2
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re: Can you call 'Cats' a musical?#18
Posted: 5/27/06 at 11:09am
I like to refer to "Cats" as the show that marks the de-evoultion of the musical theatre.

Easily THE example of the collapse of the musical theatre as an art form.
I'm an old show queen , and I'm not even 30.
Updated On: 5/27/06 at 11:09 AM
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re: Can you call 'Cats' a musical?#19
Posted: 5/27/06 at 11:09am
I prefer to call it the Spanish Inquisition, an implement of torture. Geez I hate this thing.
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re: Can you call 'Cats' a musical?#20
Posted: 5/27/06 at 11:14am
I don't like Cats -- I think the "plot," what little there is of it, is ludicrous. There is no criteria established for how or why a cat is chosen, and indeed the show comes off as just a series of character sketches rather than any sort of actual play with a conflict. I mean, no one CARES who gets picked, or from what I remember of it when I saw it, understood that that was even what was happening until the end.

That said, it IS a musical - just not one I like very much.
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re: Can you call 'Cats' a musical?#21
Posted: 5/27/06 at 12:38pm
I wouldn't be adverse to calling "Cats" an opera since I already consider "Evita" and "Jesus Christ Superstar" to be operas due to their lack of a book or spoken dialogue. I have always considered "Cats" to be a musical, though. It does have a plot. It has an extremely detailed through line narrative if you choose to look closely enough. It's clear to me that a great deal of thought went into the devising of the order in which things needed to occur in order to tell that story better. It starts off during "The Invitation to the Jellicle Ball" letting you know exactly what the story is and then by the end of the night raps things up with the prostitute Grizabella's being chosen to start life anew.

The poems by Eliot are brilliant. The amount of creativity that went into them, and the wealth of knowledge one very much needs in order to understand each verse, and the comedy, tragedy and underlying themes presented in each one is a difficult task. I will even admit to not being able to understand, sometimes, Eliot's very sophisticated British phrasing.

It is very much a "concept" show due to the fact that T.S. Eliot had drawn up "sketches" for the purpose of using and incorporating the poems into an "evening" and I've always been rather impressed as opposed to finding it ludicrous that Webber, Nunn and Lynn were able to construct an evening of musical theatre, after Eliot's death, with the ban that the Eliot estate put on the inclusion of original material. They were therefor forced to create a "plot" using the unpublished poems of Grizabella, Eliot's "Rhapsody on a Windy Night" and fragments based on two phrases:

"Jellicle cats come out tonight, Jellicle cats come one come all. The Jellicle moon is shining bright, Jellicles come to the Jellicle Ball".

and the unpublished idea of Eliot's that a cat would eventually travel "Up, Up, Up past the Russell Hotel. and "Up, Up, Up to the Heaviside Layer".

It is very much a story of redemption and exceptance that ends up being a heavy subject matter for a show that is often considered to be a children's musical.

Updated On: 5/27/06 at 12:38 PM
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re: Can you call 'Cats' a musical?#22
Posted: 5/27/06 at 1:12pm
I HATE "Cats" and I don't think it can be compared in any way to "A Chorus Line". "Cats" is awful. "A Chorus Line" is brilliant.
"I've lost everything! Luis, Marty, my baby with Chris, Chris himself, James. All I ever wanted was love." --Sheridan Crane "Passions" ------- "Housework is like bad sex. Every time I do it, I swear I'll never do it again til the next time company comes."--"Lulu" from "Can't Stop The Music" ----- "When the right doors didn't open for him, he went through the wrong ones" - "Sweet Bird of Youth" ------------ --------- "Passions" is uncancelled! See NBC.com for more info.
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re: Can you call 'Cats' a musical?#23
Posted: 5/27/06 at 2:02pm
Cats doesn't have a real plot. I think it's more of a theme. All I've read here doesn't really point to plot. I must admit that sitting in the theatre people didn't really get what was going on. I found myself saying "Ok so a cat will be reborn. That's nice". I really didn't care much. I mean for me there has to generally be an antagonist and protagonist for a real plot. Someone's got to want something and have an obsticle. Usually the play will be about how this person overcomes this obsticle or doesn't. In Cats, It's just a bunch of people doing tricks. I don't see any major obsticle that the cats work to overcome. If you're thinking the other cats then the stakes simply aren't high enough. Frankly you don't get a sense of any of that. You don't really know what's going on. With a work like Eliot's Cats, you need to SHOW what's going on. IT IS theatre.

If you look at Company, Bobby the central character wants a relationship a serious one. What is the obsticle? Fear. Fear of failure, etc. The show is about how Bobby deals with it. I think it's interesting that the end of the play doesn't answer the question...much like Caroline or Change. But those are loose plots. However, they're all musicals.

SOndheim and Michael John say that the difference between a musical and other forms is where they are played. Is it an operahouse with an opera audience? OR is it The Gershwin with the theatre crowd. I think esp now days that's the only way to really seperate them.
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re: Can you call 'Cats' a musical?#24
Posted: 5/27/06 at 2:07pm
I call it a crime against God and Nature....

John Guare put it best in "Six Degrees of Separation" when he has one character say, "You saw 'Cats' and you hated it. You said Aesculus did not invent drama so that we can find out which chorusboy goes to "Kitty cat Heaven..."
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re: Can you call 'Cats' a musical?#25
Posted: 5/27/06 at 2:13pm
spiderdj82---I like your plot synopsis for Cats. And I'm always a bit baffled as to why others say there is no plot.

It's so obviously there, if you don't "close off" to it.

And I agree with the comparison to A Chorus Line. A group of dancers all hoping to be chosen at a single event (the audition). Stepping forward and telling their stories. Waiting for "God" to make a decision as to who gets to move to the next level.

It IS the same plot.
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