Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! It’s that time of year again, the time where we all get together with friends and family and celebrate the things we’re thankful for. As a theatre fan, I’ve decided I want to show respect to the musicals that have meant so much to me over the years in the form of a top six list. These shows have helped me through difficult times, and they’ve brought immeasurable joy to me, my friends, and especially my dad. So, without further ado, here goes: Cari’s list of top six favorite musicals of all time
6. Cats the Musical
Yes, it’s true; Cats is among my most beloved musicals. Based on T.S. Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, this show focuses on the Jellicle Cats, a group of feisty felines who meet in their local junkyard for a “Jellicle Ball” once a year in order to determine who among them is worthy enough to be chosen for an ascent into the Heavyside Layer. (Yes, they essentially engage in sacrifice rituals. Creepy stuff!) The plot centers around the Jellicles competing for their leader’s favor, because the leader, Old Deuteronomy, is the one who decides which cat gets to go up to Kitty Heaven. I won’t give away the ending, just in case anyone hasn’t seen it yet, but I promise that the conclusion is emotionally and spiritually satisfying!
5. Cats the Musical
Having premiered in London in 1981, Cats is a cultural landmark that has influenced our very society in ways that no human mind can even remotely fathom. The message is poignant and extremely relevant to our times, and the score is easily the most timeless music we have ever heard—and ever will hear—in our lifetimes. Cats is the ultimate classic that will prove to stand the test of time and never, ever, ever age in any way.
4. Cats the Musical
Composed by Andrew “Floyd” Webber, Cats tells the cautionary tale of what happens when you engage in mob rule, groupthink mentality, and bullying, issues that have always been painfully close to my heart. The tragic tale of Grizabella’s plight is heartwrenching; we all understand what it is like to feel like an outsider among our peers. Once worshipped as the crown epitome of beauty and grace, Grizabella is now cast aside in much the same way as a used tissue. Without giving too much away, Grizabella’s struggle reaches a zenith with a powerhouse ballad that brings the house down under its cathartic intensity.
3. Cats the Musical
A landmark of Broadway culture, Cats took the Great White Way by storm when it slipped its way into the litter box of our hearts. When this show opened on Broadway in 1982, no one could have guessed just how terrifyingly Rum Tum Tugger’s electrifying arc would reflect the misogynist attitudes of the early 80’s and beyond. The plot revolves around Rum Tum Tugger’s toxic, indecisive nature as a man looking for a mate, and how his actions affect those in his ravenous path. His smug and self-centered boast that he always finds himself “on the wrong side of every door” paints the picture of his inability to make a moral decision; his constant switching between female felines to tickle shows how much he sees women as objects to fulfill his own derived pleasure. This message is important to me, because Rum Tum Tugger being presented as the primary antagonist gave me the guidelines of what kind of significant other to avoid in my own dating adventures.
2. Cats the Musical
Cats is a musical that received its first film adaptation in 1998 in the form of a direct-to-VHS feature. The movie includes the original set and costumes designed by the legendary John Napier, who brilliantly decided that a bunch of cat characters should be dressed in tight, 80’s dancer outfits with the body-defining ability of Spandex. These costumes are creative and successful in portraying the colorful, whimsical community of Jellicle Cats, and they assist in telling the story of our tribe of feline friends who all wish to compete in the ultimate test of who will prove to be the best and most deserving of resurrection among them. What more is there to say? This show ascends beyond the basic staple of music and dialogue and transcends into the narrative genius presented by layered scenery.
1. A Chorus Line
This musical features the exact same plot as Cats.
Well, there you have it! I will forever be thankful for these wonderful musicals, and I’m so glad that they have been present in my life since I was a little girl. I hope everyone had a fantastic Thanksgiving, and I can’t wait to give you more musical content next week!
(Photo from musicaltheaterheritage.com)