Last week the trailer for Cats the musical was released on Youtube and brought quite a lot of horrifying reactions with it. The decision to make the actors look more realistically like cats with CGI technology is a weird and terrifying one considering they could have easily gone with the tights and make-up that regular productions use, but hey its 2019, bring on the CGI nightmare. Cats the musical has been getting a lot of attention and it just makes me so incredibly happy and excited for the movie because Cats is the musical that got me obsessed with musical theatre and it was also one of the things I was most obsessed with in high school*.
I don’t know what it is about being a teenager but emotions become intense it’s easy to latch onto things. For some teenagers this is shown in more normal ways like first relationships and the gross clinginess that often comes with teenage love. Other teens may show this through a love of anime and manga, for others (at least during my time) started relating with goth and emo culture. My sister and I however became obsessed with a musical about Cats which isn’t exactly normal and didn’t really help us make friends, but the heart wants what it wants.
To those unfamiliar with the musical I’ll try to explain it as best as I can because I’m not going to lie, it is one weird show. Taking place one night in a Junkyard a group of cats known as Jellicles get together once a year for a Jellicle Ball where the Jellicle cats have to prove to the leader Old Deuteronomy (through song because hey it’s a musical) that they should be sent to the Heaviside Layer and reborn into a new life. In the wise words of youtuber Mo Mo O’Brien (who I honestly relate to with on a spiritual level when it comes to the Cats fandom) “Cats the musical is essentially a reaping ceremony for a cat cult.”
But it’s more than that. Yes, Cats might have a bizarre plot considering it’s based on a book of poems for kids but it’s memorable and it’s a show that sticks with its audiences, sometimes in positive ways and sometimes less than positive. I can’t really explain why I love the musical so much or why I became obsessed with it so hard as a teenager. I know I fell in love with the songs and music and still have the soundtrack memorized; I remember loving the costumes and make-up style they used to turn the human actors into cats and how the actors themselves made themselves act like cats. I know acting like a cat seems like something a three-year-old can do, but it’s different to see how dance and the little movements they do make it more believable. It’s a weird and special show and one I became obsessed with.
In fact, I was so obsessed with Cats the musical that I even made a fansite on Piczo** where I wrote fan fiction, drew fan art, created OC’s for a roleplay group that never really went anywhere and talk and connected to so many fans of this musical online for years. I made the site not long after my family got our first computer when I was fourteen and spent as much time as I could finding other fans like me and sharing our obsession over this strange musical. Hell, I still have a Cats collage on my wall of newspaper clipping from anytime a review, advertisement or anything related to the musical appeared in it. I have a clock made out of the record hanging in my room. When I adopted my cat one of the names I considered for her was Rumpleteazer. My dad still tells me when he hears Memory on the radio and my friends from high school still tag me in posts about the musical. I was and still am unironically in love with Cats the musical and I will not be ashamed.
I am ready for the resurgence of the Cats fandom. I am ready for the teens of 2019 to write and draw embarrassing stories and art of the characters they love and the ones they create, to cosplay the characters, to do make-up videos on Youtube. I want to see weird head canons and ships, see lively debates on more than whether or not the CGI cats are creepy or not (Note: they are creepy, but there is so much more to talk about when talking about Cats) Cats has always been a kind of joke in the Broadway world, but that hasn’t stopped people from falling in love with it over and over since it first premiered.
The tagline for Cats the musical is “Now and Forever.” I think it’s clear now more than ever that this musical really is here to stay whether it’s actors in tights and make-up or the creepy CGI glory we have waiting for us at Christmas. Cats is something that gets a reaction whether it’s good or bad. It’s something that sticks, something special, something unforgettable. It’s now and forever and I hope it always will be.
*One thing I will forever be thankful for is that I didn’t get any social media accounts aside from my Cats site until after I stopped being obsessed with the musical. I can only imagine how many cringey pictures and posts would be on my Facebook now if I had an account back then.
**When my obsession started waning and I discovered that Piczo was dying as a website I moved as much of my fansite over to Tumblr partly out of love to the musical and the memories I had with the fandom but also because it took me too dang long to make and run that site and I wasn’t about to see Piczo kill it.