31 January 2017, Hong Kong Academy for the Performing Arts
It always intrigues me how some shows speak to some and not to others. Like Cats. I have actually at multiple moments in my life thought why is Cats such an appeal? For this show to be doing it’s nth world tour, surely most people around me would be singing it praises. But this definitely is not the case.
Most of the songs don’t have catchy melodies. If it’s your first time listening to the songs, they can sound dissonant. There is no clear narrative. You are watching a clowder (had to look this up) of cats. And a clowder of cats pretending to be dogs, mice and cockroaches. The main song ‘Memory’ has been sung to death. The choreography is dated (and the HK stage was unfortunately too small).
But… it’s a show that really speaks to me and my Dad, who watched it for the 8th(!) time live last night (it was my 3rd). The appeal? Hmmm…. perhaps it’s how extreme triple threats the performers are, and the true athleticism that they display. It’s both a dream show and a real challenge for dancers, with essentially 2.5 hours of non-stop choreography. Perhaps there’s the appeal of the show staying true to the original art… it’s impressive they are still performing the original choreography 36 years on, and still winning awards for the show. While the choreography has become dated, you can imagine how groundbreaking it was back in the day. I also just associate it with how cats are supposed to dance and move – they move incredibly truly feline-like a 100% of the time – and actually I quite like how non-acrobatic it is compared to current day spectacles. (Though Broadway has just revamped the choreography which makes complete sense, but is a shame.) Perhaps it’s a bit about the mystery of how they managed to create a musical surrounding a book of poems about cats. And I’m always a sucker for productions that reimagine literature.
Or perhaps some things you just grow to love because it’s what your parents love. It was part of my childhood, with cassette tape soundtracks in the car and lazy laser disc Sunday afternoons in my parent’s bed. And the idea of going to see my Dad’s beloved show together again – 20 years since we last went – and having to hush him when he couldn’t resist singing along makes my heart smile. 🙂