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Cats Workshop inspired by Ballroom Scene

Cats Workshop inspired by Ballroom Scene

Someday Profile Photo
Someday
#1Cats Workshop inspired by Ballroom Scene
Posted: 7/29/22 at 5:22pm

BWW's article on this workshop says the characters will be played not as cats, but as humans in the drag ballroom scene. I wonder if portraying the characters as humans has been done before, perhaps regionally or abroad.

I assume the uptown ball culture setting is a new concept for the show. It feels promising to me, because it's not at odds with the text. It could give audiences another point of entry into the much maligned, thin plot by way of an alternative explanation for why we're seeing a succession of cats performing numbers about themselves.

I'm a Cats apologist who defends the show against criticisms that it has no plot. Plotlessness might not be a deal-killer for me anyway, but I feel the charge is untrue. The competition for selection to the Heaviside Layer often feels unclear until the end of the show. And the lack of direct conflict bores some audience members and confuses others. But something meaningful does happen for any audience members who connect with the characters.

If you can surrender to the episodic structure, and if a production is well produced and performed, the show rewards you not just with character-driven spectacle and feeling, but with wryly observed satires of various personality types — by Literature-Nobel-Prize-winner T.S. Eliot, no less. I enjoy hearing some of Andrew Lloyd Webber's most tuneful music without any truly cringey lyrics. And when productions maintain the choreographic emphasis, the show offers a platform for talented dancers to shine brightly. I hear it was primarily regarded as a dance show before all the buzz took over.

For most Cats haters, I suspect the primary offense is the un-coolness of humans costumed and prancing about as cats. That's fair. It's certainly unnatural. But when performed with a focused intent of storytelling, the campy sensation can be overpowered by narrative craft, music, and the performers' skills.

As with any production, the artistic success of this particular workshop and any subsequent productions will depend more on execution, than on concept. For now, I'm encouraged the concept seems not just novel, but well matched to the needs of the show. By consciously reducing the overt feline uncanniness and by adding another interesting layer of narrative, this take seems positioned to give non-Cats-lovers a way in.

Fingers crossed that this works out.

Updated On: 4/11/23 at 05:22 PM

TotallyEffed Profile Photo
TotallyEffed
#2Cats Workshop inspired by Ballroom Scene
Posted: 7/29/22 at 5:33pm

To quote A Strange Loop: Hell is real.

Someday Profile Photo
Someday
#3Cats Workshop inspired by Ballroom Scene
Posted: 7/29/22 at 7:55pm

Haha

Okay it’s not for everyone.

jimmycurry01
#4Cats Workshop inspired by Ballroom Scene
Posted: 7/30/22 at 1:29am

I'm sorry, but I have to agrue with you. Cats does not have a true plot. Cats has a concept. It is a concept musical - a strong concept musical, even.

A plot requires exposition, rising action, a climax, falling action, and a conclusion. A plot is a sequence of events that shapes a story, or narrative. The events of a plot form an action and reaction, or cause and effect cycle that play into the story as a whole.

Cats coming together to describe themselves in the hopes of going to kitty heaven is an abstract idea, or a concept, that is used to string each song together. That is a fine concept, but it is not really a plot.

Now, this isn't to say that the individual songs don't have their own individual plots. Many of them do, as they serve as vignettes that do tell the tales of individual cats.

I must stress, there is nothing wrong with concept musicals. Hair doesn't have a true central plot. It has a concept that weaves together a series of vignettes, same for Godspell. Now, Sondheim argues that Company is a concept musical, though it can certainly be argued that while the plot is not linear, we still get our exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and conclusion for Bobby and his (or her) arc, which certainly falls into the traditional rigid plot diagram. I'm not sure we can say the same about any of the cats in Cats, not even Grizabella.

Someday Profile Photo
Someday
#5Cats Workshop inspired by Ballroom Scene
Posted: 4/11/23 at 10:22pm

Jimmy, I do agree with you that Cats doesn't follow a plot structure that Aristotle or Freytag would recognize. Or even Robert McKee for that matter. But I'm using 'plot' in less formal sense, something along the lines of – 'a series of causally related events that produce meaningful change'.

I guess I'm using a variation on E.M. Forster's definition of plot:

"... We have defined a story as a narrative of events arranged in their time-sequence. A plot is also a narrative of events, the emphasis falling on causality. ‘The king died and then the queen died,’ is a story. ‘The king died, and then the queen died of grief,’ is a plot. ..."

The show has such a high proportion of episodic character development and rabbit holes of world building (the Naming of Cats, Jellicle Ball, etc.) I think many people who say "Cats has no plot" are forgetting the considerably less time consuming through line around

 
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Grizabella. Maybe they see hers as just one more feline story in an endless succession. But her journey from outcast loneliness, through openly transparent sharing and connecting with others, to her selection and ascension on the big ole tire


— that's a plot. At least as some folks talk about plot. A loose one, for sure! Also one that occupies an oddly small percentage of the show's running time. But because of its placement in the show and its narrative power, I take issue with the idea that the show is plotless.

I learned something, though. You've made me realize that some people who say it's plotless know more about plot than I've realized and may have a specific kind of plot structure in mind. And I'll never be able to defend Cats against claims that it lacks an Aristotelian plot. To that charge — I simply have to roll over.

Updated On: 4/11/23 at 10:22 PM

CarlosAlberto Profile Photo
CarlosAlberto
#6Cats Workshop inspired by Ballroom Scene
Posted: 4/12/23 at 10:26am

If in CATS the characters are not played as CATS then it ceases to be CATS and is in fact HUMANS. 

 

 

g.d.e.l.g.i. Profile Photo
g.d.e.l.g.i.
#7Cats Workshop inspired by Ballroom Scene
Posted: 4/12/23 at 10:36am

jimmycurry01 said: "Hair doesn't have a true central plot. It has a concept that weaves together a series of vignettes, the same for Godspell."

Truer for Godspell than for Hair. With the latter, I share Someday's definition of a plot; there is a central plot, it's just not conventionally sketched out (e.g., the heavy use of songs for exposition purposes through the first half of Act I rather than a conventional book). Rado and Ragni were doing a lot of worldbuilding and scene-setting for "establishment" folks who had likely never taken an interest in their kids' lives. By the time you hit "I Got Life," at least, all of the characters have been established and the plot engine is steadily running.

 


Formerly gvendo2005
Broadway Legend
joined: 5/1/05

Blocked: After Eight, suestorm, david_fick, emlodik, lovebwy, Dave28282, joevitus

TotallyEffed Profile Photo
TotallyEffed
#8Cats Workshop inspired by Ballroom Scene
Posted: 4/12/23 at 10:47am

CarlosAlberto said: "If in CATS the characters are not played as CATS then it ceases to be CATS and is in fact HUMANS.”

 

It’s idiotic any way you play it.

 

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Kad
#9Cats Workshop inspired by Ballroom Scene
Posted: 4/12/23 at 10:59am

The casting notice for a few roles posted in another thread kind of makes this seem like… an entirely different show that just happens to use the same character names and songs as Cats.

 

https://www.broadwayworld.com/equity-audition/CATS-Ronald-O-Perelman-Performing-Arts-Center-2022-26472


"...everyone finally shut up, and the audience could enjoy the beginning of the Anatevka Pogram in peace."

g.d.e.l.g.i. Profile Photo
g.d.e.l.g.i.
#10Cats Workshop inspired by Ballroom Scene
Posted: 4/12/23 at 2:45pm

...I mean, if simply adding visual subtext to what reads like a play within a play is "an entirely different show that just happens to use the same character names and songs," sure. I look at this notice and I'm like, "Alright, those are some interesting parallels between the characters and stock figures of the ballroom world. I kinda wanna see how that shakes out."

If I'm being honest, I don't know what needs to be workshopped. You do a set that looks like the biggest ole slab of ball culture ever to be on a stage, have someone announce "Tonight's theme: a tribute to the musical Cats," and boom, into the show. Much like the original, everything vital can be conveyed visually, and frankly, it highlights the framework of the plot a little more clearly (at least to a queer audience) than the original ever did.

I'm not saying it's not niche, but I 100% understand where they're going with it. They're doing the polar opposite of "Hal, it's just about cats," only they're not doing a critique of Victorian England.


Formerly gvendo2005
Broadway Legend
joined: 5/1/05

Blocked: After Eight, suestorm, david_fick, emlodik, lovebwy, Dave28282, joevitus
Updated On: 4/12/23 at 02:45 PM

CindersGolightly Profile Photo
CindersGolightly
#11Cats Workshop inspired by Ballroom Scene
Posted: 4/12/23 at 2:48pm

This is from last summer and I'm fairly certain it didn't end up happening.


They/them. "Get up the nerve to be all you deserve to be."

morosco Profile Photo
morosco
#12Cats Workshop inspired by Ballroom Scene
Posted: 4/12/23 at 3:48pm

You would have to drug me up enough to be completely unconscious and then wheelbarrow my limp body into a seat in order for me to attend.

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jkcohen626
#14Cats Workshop inspired by Ballroom Scene
Posted: 6/14/23 at 11:19am

I cannot believe this is actually happening. I need to see it though. It sounds unhinged and I want to be there. 

g.d.e.l.g.i. Profile Photo
g.d.e.l.g.i.
#15Cats Workshop inspired by Ballroom Scene
Posted: 6/14/23 at 11:29am

Again, there is a slim chance at best that this is as unhinged as people think it is, at least if they do it right.


Formerly gvendo2005
Broadway Legend
joined: 5/1/05

Blocked: After Eight, suestorm, david_fick, emlodik, lovebwy, Dave28282, joevitus

chrishuyen
#16Cats Workshop inspired by Ballroom Scene
Posted: 6/14/23 at 11:34am

I would definitely be interested in going to this, it just feels like a great environment to take a different look at Cats.  

Not to open up an old argument, but as far as the plot of Cats goes, it's basically a ballet where they also sing.  Like Nutcracker barely has more of a plot than Cats does.

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Jordan Catalano
#17Cats Workshop inspired by Ballroom Scene
Posted: 6/14/23 at 11:54am

Next I need to see The Nutcracker in a gay ballroom setting. 

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darquegk
#18Cats Workshop inspired by Ballroom Scene
Posted: 6/14/23 at 12:50pm

Will it include the infamous original ending where they were bees the whole time?

g.d.e.l.g.i. Profile Photo
g.d.e.l.g.i.
#19Cats Workshop inspired by Ballroom Scene
Posted: 6/14/23 at 1:23pm

Cats Workshop inspired by Ballroom Scene


Formerly gvendo2005
Broadway Legend
joined: 5/1/05

Blocked: After Eight, suestorm, david_fick, emlodik, lovebwy, Dave28282, joevitus

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Valentina3
#20Cats Workshop inspired by Ballroom Scene
Posted: 6/14/23 at 1:57pm

Jordan Catalano said: "Next I need to see The Nutcracker in a gay ballroom setting."

My friend once observed that the only way The Nutcracker makes sense (or is fun) is if you assume she took some LSD at the begging of the show and everything follows that. It would gloriously translate to your interpretation :)


Caption: Every so often there was a rare moment of perfect balance when I soared above him.

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Lot666
#21Cats Workshop inspired by Ballroom Scene
Posted: 6/14/23 at 3:25pm

I would love to see this.


==> this board is a nest of vipers <==

"Michael Riedel...The Perez Hilton of the New York Theatre scene"
- Craig Hepworth, What's On Stage

BETTY22
#22Cats Workshop inspired by Ballroom Scene
Posted: 6/14/23 at 7:30pm

I can't wait to see this but have to ask.....

WHY? 

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blaxx
#23Cats Workshop inspired by Ballroom Scene
Posted: 6/14/23 at 10:33pm

morosco said: "You would have to drug me up enough to be completely unconscious and then wheelbarrow my limp body into a seat in order for me to attend."

That is because you lack artistry and vision.

Good art comes from unimaginable places, it takes visionaries to elevate material from the past and give it new life. 

Theater would be nowhere if professionals didn't experiment, risk and try. 


Listen, I don't take my clothes off for anyone, even if it is "artistic". - JANICE

Rainah
#24Cats Workshop inspired by Ballroom Scene
Posted: 6/14/23 at 11:46pm

I'm mad they somehow managed to find a concept that makes me want to see cats. In contrast to many here, I think it's inspired 

Owen22
#25Cats Workshop inspired by Ballroom Scene
Posted: 6/16/23 at 8:00am

Rainah said: "I'm mad they somehow managed to find a concept that makes me want to see cats. In contrast to many here, I think it's inspired"

My feelings exactly!


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