“Cats” is a very popular musical in the world. It has generated over $3 Billion Dollars in ticket sales worldwide since its debut in 1981. In spite of the success of the musical in generating numbers, the movie “Cats” (released in 2019) gets a lot of bad rep. People who ended up going to the theatres regretted their decisions terribly. But why was the movie cats hated so much despite having big actors in it? The most important reason is how visually displeasing it was. Because of what they called “digital fur technology”, the characters were made to look like cats using this technology.
The CGI wasn’t enough to cover the actors and this is why they looked uncomfortably naked and horny during the movie. Ever since the trailer got out, lots of memes have been made on this movie and all of those were justified because of how horrible it was.
But even if you are a fan of the musical, it can be difficult to grasp what is cats about. The storyline is simple and we will discuss it. We will discuss some of the things that have been changed in the movies that were different in the musical. How this musical originated and how to make sense of it all.
Origin of Cats
This spectacular Broadway musical of 2 hours and 20 minutes was created by Andrew Lloyd Webber. Andrew Webber was a huge fan of cats and T.S Eliot and both of these things inspired him to create the musical. The poems written by T.S Eliot don’t have much of a plot. They were simply describing different cats and their story life. When Webber wanted to make the musical, he needed to get permission from Eliot’s wife, Valerie Eliot. She allowed him to do the musical under one condition.
The condition was that only Eliot would be used as the lyricist for that musical and no other lyricist were to be used. So, all that Webber could work with were the poems of Eliot which were used as lyrics and nothing new could be added. The cats in the book were introduced as characters in the play and the poems written about them were used as lyrics in the musical. This explains why cat’s musical doesn’t have much of a plat Before the debut of Cats in 1981. Webber had to remortgage his house. But this proved to be a valuable investment later on and this musical generated a lot of money and was surely worth his efforts.
Story of Cats
Now that you know the origin, we can finally talk about what is cats about. The story centers on a tribe of London Felines who are called Jellicle cats. If you were wondering what does Jellicle means, this term came from the poems of T.S Eliot and it means Dear Little Cat. Everything that happens in the musical takes place over the course of one night. All of the cats are competing in the gigantic event called the Jellicle Ball. What is the prize if they win? They get to die. Yes, you heard that right. Every cat in this competition is making its case as to why it should be chosen to die and it should be reborn as a younger, hotter, and better cat.
During the course of this musical, each cat will introduce themselves with a song explaining the reason behind their weird names, their life story, and why they deserve to go to the Heavy Side Layer to Old Deuteronomy. Old Deuteronomy is the old cat who is the judge of this competition and she decides that which cat will go to the Heavyside Layer. The Heavyside Layer is the term for a heaven-like place for cats. Once they get to the Heavyside Layer, they will come back to life as a better cat. Judi Dench plays the character of Old Deuteronomy in the movie.
Got all that? That is all there is to it. This is why the dance numbers seem unrelated to each other. Who are the participants in this competition, who wins this competition, and is there any evil character? You bet there is an evil character. We would discuss some of the most popular characters in this musical and movie.
Jennyanydots: This is played by Rebecca Wilson in the movie. She is a fat and lazy tabby cat who gets insects like beetles and cockroaches to do her bidding.
Rum Tum Tugger: Played by Jason Derulo, this is the handsome bad boy of the Jellicle cat world and the girl cats go absolutely crazy for him.
Bombalurina: This is the flirtatious cat that is played by Taylor Swift. She is horny for Rum Tum Tugger and Macavity. But unfortunately, Rum Tum Tugger rejects her and she had to reject Macavity because of female solidarity.
Macavity: This is the Evil Cat played by Idris Elba. He is a riff on Moriarty from Sherlock Holmes. He kidnaps Old Deuteronomy and comes back disguised as him.
Mr. Mistoffelees: This is a cool magician cat who is dressed in a tuxedo. Laurie Davidson plays this role in the movie.
Grizabella: This is the glamor cat played by Jennifer Hudson in the movie. Well, the ex-glamor cat to be more specific. She is shunned by the other cats because of her ragged coat and colorful past.
There are 25 characters in the movie but the most prominent ones have been mentioned. There were 23 songs originally in the musical but this can change depending on the production house.
So, who wins this competition?
Can you take a guess? The answer is Grizabella. Grizabella was shunned by other cats because of her involvement with Macavity and because it was implied that she was a sex worker. However, with moments remaining for the final choice, Grizabella starts singing the famous song “Memory” where she sings about her past mistakes and her days of glory in the past before she made those mistakes. Her performance touches the heart of other Jellicles and it captivates Old Deuteronomy. This song is incredibly sad and beautiful and is beyond doubt the best part of both the musical and the movie.
So now you know what is cats about. The complex characters and story that may be otherwise difficult to understand have been explained and demystified for you. Please don’t see the movie as it is a total disaster. But if you are a fan of cats, seeing the musical is highly recommended.