I feel like I need to start by giving an accounting of my history
My parents thought it was important to expose me and my
sister to theater from a very young age. I remember watching movies like Calamity
and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
more than I remember ever
seeing a Disney film. I was too young the first time I saw Singin’ in the Rain
to understand what was so funny about Lina Lamont’s voice, but I still loved
the movie and have seen it dozens of times. By the time I was fifteen, I had
probably seen Chicago
, in the theater, five or six times.
At four I was enrolled in dance classes. The one-hour class
at that age was divided into 20-20-20 of ballet, tap and jazz/tumbling. It didn’t
take me very long to realize I was only interested in one of those: tap. I
loved it and still love it.
My parents also thought that travel was very important. By
the time I was in my teens, I had been not only all over the U.S., outside of
Texas where I was born and raised, but I had been to New Zealand, Australia,
Canada, Mexico, England, Scotland, France, Germany and Turkey. Now I realize
how unusual and privileged that was, but at the time it was just life.
I was in my first musical when I was six. I didn’t have any
idea what was going on when my mom took me and my sister to the Fiesta Dinner
Playhouse in San Antonio for an audition. I had learned “Hush Little Baby” at
school that day, so when I was put on the stage and asked to sing a song, that’s
the only song I could think of. Somehow, I was cast as Gretl in The Sound of
My sister and I started doing musical theater at the San
Antonio Little Theater (SALT). There was a producer there named Phil George who
would put together musical revues. We were in Broadway Babies Encore
, as well as the traditional musical The Roar of the
Greasepaint, The Smell of the Crowd
. By about that time, I was done with
performing, though, and in high school I switched to working theater tech. I
was a “ghost” in Blithe Spirit
and built sets and worked lights for The
Diviners, Bye Bye Birdie
I even got hired to be the
sound technician for a play downtown.
Not only where there dance lessons in my life, but there
were also music lessons. Piano didn’t last very long, although I wish I had
been forced to continue. By high school, I really wanted to take guitar
lessons. My parents made me a strange bargain. In exchange for guitar lessons,
I also had to take viola lessons and join the high school orchestra. They
wanted viola for my college transcripts and I was happy to get the guitar
When I moved to Los Angeles, I stopped playing guitar and
viola, but I started taking voice lessons. I had a few one-night-only shows in
LA and had a great time. I’ve recently gotten back into some piano and singing,
writing my own songs now and recording them. For a few years I’ve gone with
friends to an assisted-living center once a week to sing for the residents.
Music, theater, musicals, movies, dance… They are all integral
to who I am.
Let me get back to that first trip to London. I must have
been in my late aughts or a tween. We went to see Cats
. The Rum Tum
Tugger left the stage and sat on the lap of someone in the audience. It
terrified me a little that a boundary like that was crossed, but it made an
impression. People were dancing and singing and dressed like cats. It was
At that age, Cats
was the best thing I had ever seen,
right up there with The Wiz
movie. I got soundtrack albums for both and
played them repeatedly. I got a sweatshirt with the Cats
dancers in the eyes in place of the pupils, and wore it all the time. I sang the
songs to my own pet cats. I wrote down lyrics and memorized them. I got a copy
of Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats
with drawings by Edward Gorey. I
wrote a report on that book in school. My love of Edward Gorey began, without
me even realizing it.
(My actual copy of the book.)
Our family went to New York for a vacation and we saw Cats
When I heard they were making a movie version of Cats
I was excited but apprehensive.
Over the summer, in 2019, I got hired to do some work on the
trailer. I had already seen it on-line and, like all of the
internet, I was concerned the movie was going to be terrible. I won’t bore you
with the details of the kind of work I do, but it is for International Versioning
and getting hired to work on the trailer meant watching it, very slowly, for
about four hours while I did my work. By the time I finished the project, my
apprehension was replaced with curiosity and interest. I really wanted to see
Cut to December when the movie was finally released. The
reviews were terrible. My enthusiasm to see the movie on the opening weekend
dwindled and I thought about maybe just waiting for streaming. But a friend
called and asked if I wanted to go see it that first Sunday it was playing. I
didn’t have other plans, so I went.
When the overture began, I was taken back in time. The music
sounded just like the soundtrack album I was used to listening to. “Jellicle Songs
for Jellicle Cats” gave me chills and made me cry at how beautiful it was. I
cried when Victoria was abandoned. I cried during “Memory.” I cried during the
new Taylor Swift song, “Beautiful Ghosts.” I cried when Grizabella ascended
over London and disappeared into the clouds. The actor playing Skimbleshanks,
Steven McRae, is an amazing tap dancer. His technique is impeccable. I want to
learn his dance.
Maybe I was overwhelmed seeing it in the theater. I got the
soundtrack album from a friend for Christmas and have listened to it. I cried
during “Jellicle Songs for Jellicle Cats,” “Memory” and “Beautiful Ghosts,”
just like I did in the movie theater. I forgave Rebel Wilson and James Corden
for their less-than-great vocals, because they capture the characters and tell
their stories appropriately.
perfect? No, but it is pretty darn good. I
really wish they would CGI out Jennifer Hudson’s snot. I wish the CGI when the
cats were dancing was a little less disjointed, but that could only be
accomplished by cat costumes instead of cat CGI. The dancing, still, was
Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer
uses the original London version, not the U.S. version, so I have to get used
to that. Two songs I didn’t like were cut (“The Awefull Battle of the Pekes and
the Pollicles” and “Growltiger’s Last Stand”), and I’m happy about that.
I will see it again. I will listen to the soundtrack album forever.
I will cry. I will sing. I will dance.