'The Ad-dressing of Cats' begins Wednesday

September 21, 2003

CATS will be performed at 8 p.m. Wednesday in Newlin Hall at the Norton Centre for the Arts on the Centre College campus.

On May 11, 1981, "CATS" opened at the New London Theatre in the West End. Eight years later it celebrated its first important milestone: after 3,358 performances, "CATS" became the longest-running musical in the history of British theater. "CATS" played its final performance on its 21st birthday, May 11, 2001.

In 1982, "CATS opened at the Winter Garden Theatre in New York City and continued to live up to its motto "Now and Forever." On June 19, 1997, "CATS" became the longest running musical on Broadway. It ended its 18-year run Sept. 10, 2000.

Based on T.S. Eliot's "Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats," and with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, "CATS" won seven 1983 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical, Best Lighting and Best Costumes.


Now that it's been seen by over 8,250,000 audience members, "CATS" is being introduced to a new generation: Midnight. Not a sound from the pavement. Suddenly an explosion of music and lights reveals a larger-than-life junkyard. Probing car lights tear across the darkened landscape of bottles and boxes, briefly catching the darting image of a running feline.

Tonight is the one special night each year when the tribe of Jellicle Cats reunites to celebrate who they are. This is the story of "CATS."

They emerge singing of their unique abilities and special traits.

The cats are at first suspicious and reluctant to allow the audience into their domain. They are proud, however, and in The Naming of Cats explain to their human visitors who they are and reveal that cats have three different names: the one the family uses daily, a more dignified name and a secret name. It is the contemplation of these secret names that keeps felines deep in thought.

Victoria, a young white cat, dances to signal The Invitation to the Jellicle Ball. Munkustrap, a large grey tabby, explains that the Jellicle Cats meet once a year to rejoice. They are waiting for their leader, the wise Old Deuteronomy, who will choose which one of the Jellicle Cats will journey to the Heaviside Layer to be "reborn" into a new life.

Jennyanydots, The Old Gumbie Cat, sleeps and lounges all day long. "She sits and sits and sits, and that's what makes a Gumbie Cat!" The Rum Turn Tugger is a playful prankster that the female cats find extremely attractive, and who enjoys being the center of attention.

Grizabella, the Glamour Cat, is shunned by the rest of the tribe despite being a Jellicle Cat. She left the tribe years ago to explore the outside world and now wants to return. Bustopher Jones is a large "twenty-five pounder," always clad in his signature white spats. He spends his time eating, eating and eating in the many English pubs and clubs he frequents.

Suddenly a thunderous crash, followed by the sound of police sirens and flashing red lights, signal that the villainous cat Macavity is on the loose. The cats scatter, leaving an empty stage.

Off-stage giggles signal the entrance of Mungojerrie and Rumpelteazer, a fun-loving, frolicking team of pranksters always getting in trouble with the family with whom they live. The entire tribe re-enters as their benevolent and wise leader Old Deuteronomy arrives. The cats adore and respect him. "And now that the Jellicle Leader is here, Jellicle Cats can all rejoice."

They entertain him with a special show that Munkustrap narrates, The Aweful Battle of the Pekes and the Pollicies together with The Marching Song of the Pollicle Dogs. The cats dress up as the two rival dog factions and bark at each other until they are frightened away by the great Rumpus Cat, a sleek and powerful feline.

Yet another crash from the villainous Macavity is heard, which sends the cats scurrying. Old Deuteronomy soothes them as they come back one by one. It is time for The Jellicle Ball, the great annual dance in which all of the cats celebrate.

Grizabelia appears, once more wanting to rejoin her family and be a part of the celebration. She is left to contemplate her Memory of the time before she left the tribe. She stretches out her hand behind her, hoping another cat will touch her. She is still not accepted and, disappointed, slinks off into the night.

After the Jellicle Ball, the cats rest and contemplate The Moments of Happiness before introducing more cats. Gus, the Theatre Cat, is an aged stage actor who worked with the leading actors of his day. Gus remembers his greatest theatrical triumphs, and yearns to perform again. He remembers acting in the epic story of the barge-cat Growltiger, which leads several cats to re-enact Growltiger's Last Stand with him.

Skimbleshanks, the Railway Cat, introduces himself. A friendly uncle to all of the cats, Skimbleshanks attends the trains he rides, and makes sure every detail is perfect.

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