1. At some point a composer thought to himself, “You know what would be cool? A musical about cats where all the characters are cats.”
2. The composer likely shared his idea with friends, family members, and colleagues. At least a few people in his life said, “A musical about cats where all the characters are cats? That sounds like a good idea for a musical.” These loved ones apparently harbored no ill will or malice toward the composer, and their support was genuine and not part of any elaborate plan to humiliate or ruin him.
3. Around this time, the title “Cats” was conceived to really play off of the overwhelmingly cat-centric content of the musical.
4. A first draft was written. This draft included moments where cats sing, dance, and tell stories, setting up a conceptual framework wherein the cats are magic and vying for a spot in cat heaven.
5. A second draft was written in which the composer, who was actually already kind of successful, read over his musical about cats called Cats where all the characters are cats and attempted to identify weaknesses and correct them. In spite of this, the second draft of Cats was still a musical about cats.
6. The song “Memory,” the grand dramatic climax of Cats, was completed. The final crescendo of the song, and thus the emotional apex of the musical about cats, featured a cat belting the lyric, “Touch me!” The composer played this song for his father, who continued to love and respect his son and did not say anything to the tune of, “This is ridiculous and you are wasting your life.”
7. The musical about Cats was pitched to a producer who did not immediately kick the composer out of his office. In fact, the producer agreed that the musical about Cats was a good idea for a musical and was willing to put up a great deal of money, like fucking $5,000,000, to produce the musical for a public audience. That $5,000,000 is not a metaphorical $5,000,000 exaggerated for emphasis, but the literal amount of money spent to produce Cats, a musical about cats where all the characters are cats.
8. Auditions were held. People of sound mind and solid judgement willingly chose to participate in these auditions. It is conceivable that a very talented young actress on the cusp of a promising career was rejected by the producers for not sounding enough like a cat.
9. A choreographer, makeup artist, costume designer, and set designer were all hired, knowingly attaching their names to the project. None demanded to work under a pseudonym, none were being blackmailed, and none were working on the musical in order to pay back a blood debt.
10. During rehearsals, the director likely angrily shouted, “No, damn it! More like a cat!”
11. Cats, the musical about cats where all the characters are singing and dancing cats, opened to the public. It was neither financially nor critically a complete and massive failure. Without having to be motivated by morbid curiosity, actual human beings paid money to see Cats, and theater critics, with no trace of sarcasm or irony, declared Cats a hit, encouraging even more mentally stable adults to pay their hard-earned cash to see other mentally stable adults dress up like cats and dance around for two hours.
12. Not satisfied with simply existing, Cats won the Tony Award for best musical in 1983, permanently recording in time a moment where three other musical productions were told, “I’m sorry, but there is a musical with singing and dancing cats that is better than your musical.”
13. Cats has since been translated into over 20 languages, meaning this isn’t just one of those white people things. Some productions have grossed over $155 million dollars, up $155 million dollars from what rational thought would lead one to guess it would gross. Cats went on to run longer than any other Broadway musical in history. No, seriously. I shit you not, it continues to be a beloved musical today.
THIS ARTICLE LEAVES OUT THE FACT THAT CATS IS AN ADAPTATION OF T.S. ELIOT’S OLD POSSUM’S BOOK OF PRACTICAL CATS. YES, THAT THE SAME DUDE WHO WROTE THE WASTE LAND AND THE LOVE SONG OF J. ALFRED PRUFROCK. CAT WHIMSY GOES MUCH DEEPER THAN YOU THINK.
IT IS ALSO THE ONLY MUSICAL I HAVE EVER SEEN LIVE
how can they leave that out?? it’s the most important fact about it. (i have that book)
Incidentally (of nothing) I was just telling Zhenya the other day that Michigan is lake-shaming the rest of the continental United States by calling their lakes “Great” (and “Superior” in the most egregious instance)
With the glory of communism we can ensure that every state has an Okay Lake
I’m sorry for those of you who must live on the shores of inferior lakes.
According to a recent interview for Decibelmagazine, Danzig has “no less than four” cats, one of which is named Ryuko. Danzig is quoted talking to the cat (asking if it’s hungry) and narrating its actions as it passed through the room.
“Bad books on writing tell you to ‘WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW’, a solemn and totally false adage that is the reason there exist so many mediocre novels about English professors contemplating adultery.”—Joe Haldeman (via maxkirin)