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London and Maddie Have Spoken: Cats at NJPAC Is a “Must See”

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Before I share London, Maddie, Rex and Roxy’s thoughts on today’s performance of Cats at NJPAC, I’ll start by saying that there are still some tickets left for the final performance of Cats at NJPAC at 3pm tomorrow – Sunday, November 23rd. If you live in or near New Jersey and have no plans for Sunday afternoon, here’s your chance for some spontaneous family fun…grab a few of the remaining tickets (there’s not a bad seat in the house at NJPAC), take the kids and share a memory you’ll never forget.

Midnight, not a sound from the pavement
Has the moon lost her memory
She is smiling alone.
In the lamplight the withered
leaves collect at my feet
And the wind begins to moan.

London was already bouncing up and down in her seat as we drove into Newark in our Red Jewel…the new GMC Acadia we bought at the end of September. “Mommy, is NJPAC the place where we saw those dancers on Mother’s Day? If it is, I love that place. There’s that giant disco ball that hangs from the ceiling all the way up at the top of the theatre…and it feels like we’re so close to the dancers!” I told the girls that I had read in the Star-Ledger that the Cats actually come out into the audience during the show.

As the lights went down in the theatre, the girls’ eyes widened as it turned out to be true and bright yellow glowing cats’ eyes appeared in the aisle next to our seats. When I saw Cats on Broadway over 20 years ago, I remember the sets, costumes and the special effects being impressive, even to a jaded college student. Today at NJPAC, I experienced it all over again, this time through my daughters’ eyes, filled with delight. The traveling set was even more amazing as I realized it had been put together for a four-day run at NJPAC, rather than “Now and Forever” on Broadway, and would be dismantled to move on to the next town after Sunday’s performance in Newark, New Jersey. Next week, Cats moves on to St. Louis, Missouri, followed by Costa Mesa, California, then San Antonio, Texas…and so on, giving families like ours around the United States the chance to get a taste of the Broadway classic without leaving their own hometown. I’ve certainly grown spoiled by the easy drive into Newark instead of the challenge of Times Square.
All alone in the moonlight
I can smile like the old days
I was beautiful then, I remember
The time I knew what happiness was
Let the memory live again

Maddie, as always, was a bit skeptical about a Broadway musical. “Will they talk? Like in Peter Pan?” Even though Maddie loves to dance at Garden State Ballet, she has serious hesitations about shows in which the performers express themselves entirely through body language and movement. Singing would be a step up from dance alone, but Maddie was still seeking dialogue. I told her that the show was based on poems from T.S. Eliot’s “Old Possums Book of Practical Cats” but warned that the poems had been set to music and she could expect the cats to break into song rather than conversation.

Maddie ended up having a terrific time, although the show was a bit longer than her 6-year-old attention span. Like most of the parents (and grandparents) who had brought their younger children to NJPAC this afternoon, I was glad to expose Maddie to live theatre instead of limiting her concept of entertainment to “watching something” on the Disney Channel.

I must wait for the sun rise
I must think for the new life
And I mustn’t give in

When the dawn comes
Tonight will be a memory too
And the new day will begin
Favorites? Roxy’s was the naughty Rum Tum Tugger, thrusting his pelvis like Elvis and bounding into the audience to pluck a young lady out of the crowd to dance in the aisle. Maddie was mesmerized by Grizabella the Glamour Cat and London favored Mr. Mistoffelees and his magic.

Burnt out ends of smoky days
The stale cold smell of morning
A street lamp dies
Another night is over
Another day is dawning

Touch me
It’s so easy to leave me
All alone with my memory
Of my days in the sun
If you touch me
You’ll understand what happiness is
Look, a new day has begun
– “Memory”: lyrics written by Trevor Nunn, based on poems by T.S. Eliot

In the end, for me, it is all about the memories….reminiscing about my first Broadway show (A Chorus Line), seeing Cats on Broadway, and creating new memories for London and Maddie. Since Cats left Broadway in September 2000, before London was born, NJPAC offered our family the unique opportunity to share a memory.

  • Henson Ray
    9:43 am on November 23rd, 2008 1

    Glad you enjoyed it. And although I can think of nothing more entertaining than accompanying you and your family to the theater, “Cats” would not be my first choice. True, I am a big cat fan, but I am not a big “Cats” fan. Except for a few songs, I thought this show was a big bore. (The Broadway production…not the NJPAC production.)

  • Heidi
    8:31 pm on November 27th, 2008 2

    I have always wanted to see Cats!!! It looks wonderful and I am sure the costumes are phenomenal. Thanks for sharing!


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