101 Ways to Skin a Cat
Yeah, all right! Get off my back! I'll admit it. I went to see Cats last Friday night at UNM's Popejoy Hall. I was curious, OK? Is that such a bad thing?
Besides, I assumed it would be enjoyable. I mean, Christ, since the show first opened on Broadway in the early '80s something like seven billion people have seen the damned thing. Masses of zealots love this musical, and I'm not ashamed to say that I was perfectly prepared to love it, too.
I mean, I didn't expect Cats to be deep or anything. I merely expected a fine slice of sing-along pop fluff served on a bed of lime Jell-O with a side of crispy corn chips. Not good for you, not nourishing, but tasty. A guilty pleasure.
Entering the theater I was convinced that there had to be something to the whole Cats phenomenon. Leaving the theater—at intermission, I couldn't stomach the thought of sitting through the second half—I couldn't for the life of me figure out what all the fuss is about.
Since I didn't see the whole show, I'm not going to pretend this is a real review. It isn't. It's possible—though not particularly likely—that the second act lived up to all the hyperbolic praise that's been heaped on Andrew Lloyd Webber's smash musical by bizillions of its cult-like followers over the last two and a half decades.
But that first half. My god, the first half! The show got off to a poor start when several cats swarmed down the aisles from the back of the theater. Before they reached the stage, they dramatically turned to blink their illuminated cat eyes at the audience. Only problem is the house wasn't dim enough to obscure the fact that they all wore flashing eyeball headbands across their foreheads. Yikes!
Once the show started, it only got worse. The goofy synth-heavy orchestration seemed dated. The costumes and lighting seemed hokey. The stage was cramped. The choreography was straight off the rack. Worst of all, the performers all seemed vaguely embarrassed by the whole thing, and why wouldn't they be? Hell, I was embarrassed for them.
During the first act, there was no trace of a plot. There's no dialogue either. Each song introduces a new feline character, and aside from the lead character, Grizabella, none of them are particularly interesting.
Could it possibly have been this awful on Broadway? I don't think so. You'd have to be under the age of eight, or a doddering senile 130-year-old to enjoy this show.
Awful. Truly awful.