Thank You Andrew Lloyd Webber

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Dear Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber,

There will never be enough words or the right words that would fully describe how thankful I am that you created Cats the musical. If you ever do actually end up reading this letter, and there is only one thing you can take from it, then I want it to be a huge fat enormous THANK YOU. I don’t precisely know why this musical decided to make a home inside my heart, but I want to at least try and explain the density that it carries. I would like to share with you my personal Cats journey and how this beautifully complex story resonates with my soul more than anything else in this entire world.

As crazy as this may sound, my love for this musical began when I was only 18 months old. I don’t exactly know how it started, I just know that my grandma bought me the VHS of Cats and I have been watching it since the very beginning of my life. I believe it is where my love for Broadway, dancing, and musicals began. My family speaks of how something inside of me just snapped when I first watched it. My mom tells me that even at an extremely young age I understood what was happening and would cry when Grizabella ascended into the Heavyside Layer. My soul, for some reason, had an undeniable connection to this musical, the characters, and the story. So truly I tell you, I can’t remember a time in my life where Cats wasn’t a part of it.

I’ve always said how the story of Cats is more human than any story I know. The cats show and feel incredibly human emotions; it just takes a special person to see and understand it. The kittens are much more accepting towards Grizabella than the older cats are, just like with humans how children are always kinder and more accepting than adults. The final song which speaks of how you should address a cat, highlights the fact that every person you encounter deserves respect. These cats show everyday human qualities, such as being protective, curious, silly, rejected, flirtatious, angry, judgemental, and accepting. One way I use to defend this claim is when the cats sing about their name. They speak of a cat having three different names: an everyday name, a fancier name, and a name that only the cat himself knows. I interpret that as how people have a version of themselves they show to their friends and family, a version of themselves they show to the outside world or in more professional situations, and then the version that they themselves only know, which is the core depth of who they really are. That’s all this story is, a hidden and deep-rooted proclamation of the beautiful individuality and community that comes along with being human.

When I was younger, I assigned a cat to each member of my family based on the cat’s role and how they compared to that certain family member. My dad, naturally, was Munkustrap. He is the leader, he is protective, and even has a small humorous side and was the perfect fit for the head of my family. The cat I assigned to my mom was Jennyanydots. She is the only female cat Munkustrap introduces and sings about, plus I always saw a little chemistry between the two. Jennyanydots is very motherly but also extremely silly and those are two great descriptions of my own mother. I gave Cassandra to my older sister because of how graceful, beautiful, and mature she is. She sings the line, “Jellicle Cats have moonlight eyes,” and my sister has stunning crystal blue eyes. My big brother gets none other than Rum Tum Tugger. When I was little, and probably still now, my brother was my rock star. He is extremely funny, boisterous, and very handsome, so you can see how Tugger is a perfect fit. And for myself? Well Victoria, of course. I was never much of a singer, but rather dance is what held my heart. Victoria is the only cat with a dance solo and is always a key part in most of the group dances. She is gentle, innocent, kind, and accepting, all qualities I see in myself. Now last but certainly not least, Old Deuteronomy. He was accurately assigned to my late great grandpa, whom I called PawPaw. He was the leader of our extended family and radiated love, compassion, and the true meaning of family. Every time I see Deuteronomy I am reminded of my PawPaw and a sense of ease comes over me and I instantly feel at peace and comforted.

Growing up with this show at my disposal, naturally I came to memorize every lyric, but also all the choreography. I know this musical like the back of my hand and I also know each cat’s personality and how they would react in any given situation. I have come to realize more and more how extremely important each cat truly is. One cannot be without the other, regardless if they get along or not. Every song and every piece of the story leads effortlessly into the next. It demonstrates a cultivating community of individuals ultimately coming together to celebrate the same thing: the virtues of being a cat. Which in turn could be interpreted as the virtues of being human, showing love towards others, and embracing who you are.

There were a few occasions throughout my childhood that I could have attended a showing of Cats on tour, but I always denied the opportunity. Because this show meant more to me than words could ever fathom, if I were to see it live, I wanted it to be the best of the best: Broadway. No matter how long that took. And for a while, I believed that that chance would never come. However, one day in the middle of class, I saw an article on Playbill.com confirming Cats the musical would be returning to Broadway and immediately I started crying right then and there. No matter what it took, I was going to make my way to New York City to witness a masterpiece. And I am extremely blessed to have amazing people in my life who were able to make that dream a reality.

This musical returned to Broadway at the peak of social media, therefore I was able to follow the cast every step of the way. I cannot tell you enough what an absolute PERFECT cast was chosen. Every single person looks exactly how they should for the particular character they play. Lili is so little and cute like Electra. Christine is tall and gorgeous just like Bombalurina. Ricky is the most incredible dancer and perfect for Mistoffelees. And Quentin did a miraculous job as Deuteronomy. And that is just to name a few! Following their journey via Instagram before I even made it to the city just got me more and more excited to see it live.

Stepping into the theatre, a wave of emotion overtook me and tears began flowing from my eyes. It looked exactly how I imagined it would and staring up at the Jellicle Moon sent chills down my spine. I never thought this moment would happen and my anxiety before the overture began was out the roof. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time, eyes furiously scanning the stage at every moment that passed. Jennyanydots’ number certainly got the show rolling with high energy, following Tugger with his ridiculous song and dramatic attitude. Every song that was sung, each dance that was performed, and the utter emotion that was exalted throughout the show was simply captivating. One moment in particular I was extremely anxious for was Old Deuteronomy’s song. When it finally began I continuously looked behind me waiting for him to walk down through the aisles. I knew he would be coming, I just wasn’t sure when. This song is the one that makes me the most emotional, and when he finally arrived I felt at ease and as if there was a sense of calmness in the air. Now that he was there I could finally relax and enjoy the show because with him around, I felt at home.

Before that night I thought my love for Cats had already reached its peak, that it was impossible to grow any more than what it already was. But witnessing pure magic like that, right before my eyes, my love exceeded limits I didn’t even know existed. One thing that was so remarkable about this experience was that it illuminated characters I had never favored before. This Broadway version made me aware of specific cats that I never paid much attention to, but now love so deeply and realize even more so how important each cat genuinely is. The cats that impacted me the most and opened up my eyes to their significance would be the twins. Growing up watching the VHS version they were never noteworthy to me, I never saw their value. They sort of just blended into the background but I now know how, in a way, that’s what makes them so unique and vital to the story. Coricopat and Tantomile on stage were fascinating and demanded to be watched by how enchanting they were. The synchronization of their movements was mesmerizing and it became very clear to me their purpose in the show. They aren’t meant to be in the spotlight, they are meant to give hints and inferences to every shift that occurs and realizing that blew me away.

It might sound odd to use this analogy but I guess, to try to understand it, this musical is sort of like my first true love. Every time I watch it, I understand it more. Any time I hear the music, I instantly get happy. It amazes me of the depth that this show carries. I feel as though most audience members can watch it and appreciate the music and dancing, yet lack the understanding of how beautifully intricate and detailed the story truly is. The complexity of each cat and the important role in which it plays is a defining factor in the overall story. The pure innocence of Jemima, the arrogance and big-headedness of Alonzo, the flirtatious and alluring attitude of Bombalurina, and the liveliness yet also working maturity of Mistoffelees. How Tumblebrutus loves to show off, how witty and playful Carbucketty is, and how graceful, beautiful, and elegant Victoria is. All qualities that illuminate and seek to embrace individuality yet also showcase a perfect puzzle in which every single piece matters.

Every inch of this story ignites my soul on fire like nothing else in this world can. I feel as though I continue to repeat myself but it is so difficult to put my love into words. I can’t thank you enough for creating something so beautiful, so deep, so magical, and so real. I know how humble you are and how likely it is that you would say, “If it weren’t for T. S. Elliot,” which yes I will give credit where it is due. But you, sir, you made it all come together. Your mastery with the score is absolutely breathtaking and every element of the music emits liveliness and purpose. If nothing else, I want you to know how your single creation has become a part who I am. Cats is in my DNA and because I know this story, and the love and forgiveness that it teaches, I am a better person. It taught me to embrace what makes me unique and how to love things deeply without being ashamed of it. I compare how this musical makes me feel to the ending of Moments of Happiness, when all the cats suddenly rise up and take in the moment in which they are singing about. It is a feeling that no words can explain and all you can do is stare blindly into space, take a breath, and let the moment consume you.

Believe me when I tell you I could go on for days talking about Cats, explaining to others what it means to me, what everyone should know about it, or the importance of every individual cat’s role. I could continue talking about how deep-rooted the underlying story is, how mesmerizing the choreography is, the beauty of the music, and the genius behind it all. But at the very least, know that this musical will live in my memory forever. It will continue to inspire me, remind me of what’s important, and above all else, make me feel most myself. Thank you, thank you, from the very bottom of my heart. These words still do not do justice, but just know the true magnitude of my love for Cats is utterly ineffable.

Loyally,

An incredibly devoted and loving fan

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One thought on “Thank You Andrew Lloyd Webber

  1. What a delightful essay. You have a very bright future. I love the reference to the three different names a cat must have. My 19-year old son memorized that poem for a school assignment when he was about 5 and we both can still recite most of it. Thanks for reconnecting me to that memory.

    Liked by 1 person

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