Somewhere between watching the coverage on TV so long ago and plunking down in the velvets seats of the Queen Elizabeth theatre, something went horribly wrong.
The jam packed theatre was abuzz with anticipation as the lights went down and the music began. The show opened with the cast of Cats meowing their way down the aisles poking their illuminated heads into the faces of the audience members on the edges of the aisles, and making their way to the eerily darkened stage. Many of us had been around for The Lion King a few months back so this was a good sign; they're coming down the aisles so we were in for a fan-freakin-tabulous show alright!
A series of small white pin lights began to flicker on stage and the music swelled and swelled until just when we were ready for the whole damned thing to erupt in a frenzy of feline fantasy... bam! the cats were gone, the lights went up and... and... nothing.
Andrew Lloyd Webber based his songs on T.S. Eliot's book of poems, Old Possum Book of Practical Cats and the show has been a hit for decades so why was it such a disappointment?
The cast was actually quite talented; they could sing and dance, no doubt about that. The set design wasn't that bad, though the lighting design could have used some imagination.
That's it! Imagination!
It felt like when you're in grade school and the substitute teacher gets called in at the eleventh hour and doesn't know what the blazes to teach so spends the entire class playing hangman on the chalkboard.
So the songs were a little lame, so the costumes were all over the place, so the show has been staged that way since its inception a thousand years ago: couldn't somebody have injected just a little originality into it? After all, it is 2012.
There was no story. Yes, yes, there ISN'T any story, but there COULD be.
There are a million different ways to string those lackluster songs together that could make the climactic Memory seem like an after thought. This is ground ripe for the planting of something great, it's just going to take an inspired director and a little imagination... actually a lot of imagination, but that's not the point. The point is, work for those 100 plus Canuck bucks you're charging and come up with something worth all the change in our Memory banks.