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What is the storyline of "Cats" the musical

Last post Feb 27, 2010 10:04 AM by SuzieQ2 . 4 replies.

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  • What is the storyline of "Cats" the musical

    I am watching it for the first time.  I will probably have to watch it again to get more meaning of it.  I don't quite get the storyline.  You know how you watch a movie for the 2nd or 3rd time (or more) you see more of what you watched the first time?  The singing is very good. 


    So, could someone tell me the basic storyline.


    Everything is okay in the end, if it's not okay, then it's not the end.

  • Re: What is the storyline of "Cats" the musical

    from Wikipedia:

    Act I — When Cats are Maddened by the Midnight Dance

    After the overture, the Cats gather on stage and explain the Jellicle tribe and their purpose ('Jellicle Songs for Jellicle Cats'). The Cats spot the human audience and explain how the different Cats of the tribe are named ('The Naming of Cats'). This is followed by a dance from Victoria the White Cat that signals the beginning of the Jellicle Ball and Munkustrap tells us that tonight is the night when Old Deuteronomy will choose a cat to be reborn into a new life on the Heaviside Layer. ctas

    Munkustrap appears and introduces Jennyanydots ('The Old Gumbie Cat'), a large tabby cat. She "sits and sits and sits" all day, while at night she rules over the mice and cockroaches, teaching various activities to them. Jennyanydots finishes, greets the other cats, but is interrupted. The music instantly changes, and The Rum Tum Tugger makes an extravagant entrance ('The Rum Tum Tugger'). The Tugger is a Tom with a wild mane and leopard spots on his chest. He is very fickle and unappeasable, "for he will do as he do do and there's no doing anything about it".

    A shabby old grey cat stumbles out and looks around. It is Grizabella. All the cats back away. The cats sing of her saddened, unfortunate state ('Grizabella: The Glamour Cat'). Grizabella leaves and the music changes to a cheerful upbeat. Bustopher Jones, a fat cat in "a coat of fastidious black", appears ('Bustopher Jones: The Cat About Town'). Bustopher Jones is among the elite of the cats, and visits prestigious gentleman's clubs. A loud crash startles the tribe. Could this be Macavity? The cats run off the stage in fright. Hushed giggling signals the entrance of Mungojerrie and Rumpelteazer, a pair of near-identical cats. They are petty burglars, very mischievous, and they enjoy causing trouble for human families ('Mungojerrie and Rumpelteazer').

    Finally, the Jellicle patriarch, Old Deuteronomy, shows up ('Old Deuteronomy'). He is a large old Cat that “has lived many lives” and “buried nine wives (And more, I am tempted to say – ninety-nine)”. He is the one who will choose which Jellicle cat will go to the Heaviside Layer. In most productions, at this point, the cats perform a song ('The Awefull Battle of the Pekes and the Pollicles') for Old Deuteronomy. It is a story about two dog tribes clashing in the street and subsequently being scared away by the Great Rumpus Cat, a cat with flashing red eyes. After a few words from Old Deuteronomy on the destiny of Jellicle Cats and Pollicle Dogs, a second loud crash, presumably from Macavity, sends the alarmed cats scurrying. But Old Deuteronomy calls them back and the main celebration begins ('The Jellicle Ball'), in which the cats sing, dance and display their "terpsichorean powers".

    After the Ball, Grizabella reappears, refusing to be left out of the festivities. Once again, she is shunned by the other cats, but that does not stop her from singing a short version of 'Memory'.

    [edit] Act II — Why Will the Summer Day Delay — When Will Time Flow Away?

    After the Jellicle Ball, Old Deuteronomy sings of “what happiness is” ('The Moments of Happiness'). Gus — short for Asparagus — shuffles forward ('Gus: The Theatre Cat'). He is the cat that once was a famous actor but now he is old and “suffers from palsy which makes his paws shake”. He is accompanied by Jellylorum, who tells of his exploits. Gus then remembers how he once played the infamous Growltiger, Terror of the Thames ('Growltiger's Last Stand'). He tells the story about the pirate's romance with Griddlebone and how he was overtaken by the Siamese and forced to walk the plank.

    Back in the present, after Gus exits, Skimbleshanks is sleeping in the corner ('Skimbleshanks: The Railway Cat'), a cat who is unofficially in charge of the night train to Glasgow. He is very clever and very important because if he is gone “the train can’t start”.

    With a third crash and an evil laugh, the "most wanted" cat, Macavity appears. He is a “master criminal” and never is found at the scene of the crime. He is a horrifying looking cat and a “villain” of the Jellicle Tribe. Macavity shows up and captures Old Deuteronomy. As the other cats try to follow him, Demeter and Bombalurina sing what they know about Macavity, as they have had some sort of past with him ('Macavity: The Mystery Cat'). When they are finished, Macavity returns disguised as Old Deuteronomy. When revealed by Demeter, he fights with Munkustrap and Alonzo.

    The Rum Tum Tugger suggests that the cats find Mr. Mistoffelees ('Magical Mr. Mistoffelees'). Mr. Mistoffelees is black and small and can perform many feats of magic that no other cat can do. The magical cat succeeds in bringing back Old Deuteronomy. He is praised by all the cats. The Jellicle choice can now be made.

    Old Deuteronomy sits down and Grizabella appears for the final time. Old Deuteronomy allows her to have a chance to address the cats. Her faded appearance and lonely disposition have little effect on her song ('Memory'). The appeal succeeds and she is chosen to be the one ('Journey to the Heaviside Layer'). A large tyre rises up with Old Deuteronomy and Grizabella. Once at the top Grizabella finishes the journey herself. Old Deuteronomy gives his closing speech to the human audience ('The Ad-dressing of Cats') and the show comes to a close.



  • Re: What is the storyline of "Cats" the musical


    Dog  It is based a book by T.S. Elliot.  "Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats"  I just saw it again live on stage for the 2nd time 2 weeks ago.  The 1st time I saw it in Chicago 20 years ago. 


    Even though I knew what was going to happen...  I still teared up when Grizabella got chosen to go to the "Heavyside Layer"  Music Memories....  Music


    Never read the book, by the way....  so not sure how much the musical follows the book.  I know the poem they recite in the beginning is in the book.....  But I think most of the songs are poems in the book & were set to music.


    Edit to add:  Guess I was posting the same time as retteacher..  her posting is excellent & exlains the storyline so much better than I did.



  • Re: What is the storyline of "Cats" the musical

    The storyline is thin.  It's not about story, and your enjoyment of the piece will be greatly enhanced when you understand that.


    If you HAVE to have story, this is it.  Don't look at it too closely, or it will collapse:


    It is the night of the Jellicle Ball, the night when all cats gather to learn which among them will be taken from Earth to the Heaviside Layer, there to be reborn as new kitten and have life to live all over again.  The cats gather and present an impressive roster of cats that might be the one chosen--the Old Gumbie Cat, Skimbleshanks, The Rum Tum Tugger, usw...   In and out of this display, Grizabella slinks along like a hippie who fell out of the Chevy Van and had the snot beat out of her by a gang of bikers.  Her story is, she was once a posh feline and has fallen on some VERY rough times.  

    Now, into this fun and frolic, Rumpleteezer and Mungojerrie, at the behest of McCavity (the mystery cat), kidnap Old Dueteronomy, the cat who will announce the name of the cat destined to be reborn in the Heaviside layer.  Why they do this is never explained, and is never the point, for it leads to the pivotal introduction of Mr. Mistoffeles, who has the show's most infectious song.  

    With Old Dueteronomy released, he announces the name of the cat who will be reborn, and--I bet you guessed this part--it's Grizabella!  Once the festivities are over, the show ends with a PSA about the diffenences between cats and dogs.  

    That's the story.  



    Cats was never meant to be about story.  It's about Cats.  Plain and Simple.  And it's addictive.  





    I don't often get asked to define irony, but when I do, I always say,

    "Why, yes.  Yes, I AM a Field Editor for Taste of Home."

  • Re: What is the storyline of "Cats" the musical


    Cats was never meant to be about story.  It's about Cats.  Plain and Simple.  And it's addictive.  



    Dog  Excellent review CIK...  you are right on!!  One needs to to keep an open mind on this one... And there is a lot of hidden (and obvious) humor if you really pay attention.  It is just a fun fantasy with some great music.