Excerpts From Another Cat's Diary : Chapter Twelve : The End


If you care to read or listen from the beginning click here.


This chapter includes adult language. 



Welcome back. 

To the end. This chapter will take us up to opening night. The penultimate week in some detail, the week of opening…? 

Well, I need to leave something for the book. 

Right?

Ready?

Here we go.


Cats : Day Forty-nine of Rehearsal

Monday, July 18th, 2016

13 DAYS TO OPENING

All By Ourselves


8:00am Crew, Work Call Dry Tech 

12:00pm FULL CAST (No Costumes, Hair, or Make-Up)

1:00pm FULL CAST Into Mics

5:00pm Cast Dinner Break

7:00pm FULL CAST, work, tech

12:00am End of Day


EXCERPT :  The Trades

Opening night is less than two weeks in front of us and we’ve got last week’s previews behind us. Our first numbers are being reported in the trades this morning.

Quote.

Broadway Box Office: ‘Cats’ Starts Out Purring
By Gorgon Cox/Variety

JULY 18, 2016

The new revival of “Cats” pounced on Broadway last week, launching to healthy sales in a window that saw a few titles dial up to nine-show week in order to take advantage of summer tourist traffic.

Cats” ($603,553 for four previews) played its first performances and pulled in about $150,000 per performance, attracting audiences at 94% of capacity in the 1,371-seat Neil Simon Theater. That’s a promising sign: If sales hold, a full week of eight performances would land “Cats” a solid perch in the millionaires’ club. 

End quote.

If.


EXCERPT : In Andy’s Absence

First hour and twenty minutes are spent with Kristen cleaning music. She hasn’t had an extended crack at us since we hit the theatre and she carpes the hell of of this particular diem

After Kristen it’s three hours and and twenty minutes of notes with Trevor. Which was a little hard. Certainly for the majority of the cast who are unused to him and perhaps unused to this much talking about talking—as it were—but even for me it was a bit of a hard go. 

It’s the kind of stuff I always enjoy—lots of language and narrative tightening—but sometimes veering towards countering previous notes or directions. 

Or at least it feels that way at this point in the game. Brains as well as bodies are tired.

Trevor and Andy are very different energies and I don’t think it’s just the age or the nationality. They do, though, in many ways seem like poster children for their respective times of life and lands of origin. Now Trevor has become a bit of an Oxbridge Don while Andy’s still hanging onto Bad Boy status. I imagine Trevor has been the Bad Boy a gracious plenty in his life. May still be as far as I know.

But, both, worrying away at narrative and story. 

With Andy it’s story as the guide and physicality as the way. With Trevor it’s story as guide, language as the way. I suppose to ALW it was (and is) poetry not so much as guide as suggestion and music as the… manifestation? I am unclear about how or what ALW thinks and thought. The music is all I have to go on.

On a break I hit the interwebs to find footage of Trevor back when I’d first discovered him in the early-eighties. 

Looking at him—Trevor The Younger—I just want to run downstairs to the house, find the old boy, and hug him to death. A great deal of this fondness is because, while I’ve never been and will never be anything like Andy, I am and will increasingly be—if I’m lucky—a great deal like Trevor. 

Pedants love pedants. 

Or—at the least—this pedant loves that pedant.


Cats : Day Fifty of Rehearsal

Tuesday, July 19th, 2016

12 DAYS TO OPENING

Previews Continue

The Best Laid Plans


8:00am Crew, Work Call, Dry Tech 

12:00pm FULL CAST on Stage (No Costumes, Hair nor Make-Up) 

1:00pm FULL CAST Into Mics 

4:30pm Break down Tech Tables 

5:00pm Cast Dinner 

7:00pm FULL CAST into Costumes, Hair & Make-Up 

7:10pm Lift Call 

7:15pm Wig Calls begin 

7:30pm Half-Hour 

8:00pm Preview #5 


REHEARSAL BULLET POINTS : 

  • A return to felinity - thirty minutes with Trevor and Chrissie
  • Dance fixes
  • Bustopher review
  • New start to Gus reprise
  • Trying on and dealing with the mask: “How does it feel?” That’s not the point.

An Email : About The Future. Kind of.

From: Stage Management
Subject: Cats Performance Calendar
Date: July 19, 2016 at 11:44:28 AM EDT
To: Cast

All,

Attached, please find the Performance Calendar through January 15, 2017 which is our current on sale date.

We will publish another addition in a few months or if there is a dramatic change in the schedule.

Please remember that the schedule is subject to change with appropriate notice.

Best,

Ira

All well and good, but a published calendar, tickets on sale, even tickets sold, is no guarantee that we will see 2017. Which is—in part—why Andy Jones and I have not decorated our dressing room.

We are reticent. Oh, yes. We are reticent.


PRESENT DAY POSTSCRIPT :

And we continued to be reticent until our closing day, a year and a half later. Save for a giant See’s Candy box impaled on a nail already in the wall, we did not decorate one bit.

I’m proud of us.


EXCERPT : The Mask Makes Its Debut

A very note-y show. Dis-integrated feeling for me. But Trevor seemed to like it. And he got his mask.

He caught me afterwards, 

“Didn’t you FEEL it? When you came out? And when you took it off?” 

I was grudging in my response. 

“If you say so.”

Petty. But there it is.

I wouldn’t have given the old boy such a hard time if I’d known he was leaving us tomorrow.


Cats : Day Fifty-one of Rehearsal

Wednesday, July 20th, 2016

11 DAYS TO OPENING

Preview #6

Trevor Takes His Leave


8:00am Crew, Work Call Dry Tech 

12:00pm FULL CAST on Stage (sans Lewis) -- No Costumes, Hair nor Make-Up 

1:00pm FULL CAST Into Mics 

3:30pm ADD Lewis 

4:45pm Break down Tech Tables 

5:00pm Cast Dinner 

7:00pm FULL CAST into Costumes, Hair & Make-Up 

7:10pm Lift Call 

7:15pm Wig Calls begin 

7:30pm Half-Hour 

8:00pm Preview #6 

FITTINGS:
12:00pm Hanes
TBD Bausilio, Gaymon, LeProtto for Cockroach heads


EXCERPT : The Press 

This morning the online version of The New York Times gives us sixteen-hundred words on why we all may—or may not—love—or hate—Cats. The same article will appear in the print edition this weekend. Online the headline is:

We Love Cats, We Hate Cats

In print it will be:

Just Say Cats And Watch The Fur Fly

It’s not a terrible piece. It tells the two sides of the story. And there really are only two sides. People either love this piece or they think it may be a sign of the cultural end times. 

Which camp am I really in? The Times piece reawakens in me what feels like a crisis of faith. But—and this would not be the first time this would be true in theatre in general nor for me in particular—

Sometimes the thing you could not love from the outside, you can and do love from the inside. 

The opposite can also be true. See: playing farce.

BUT, here’s the main thing that caught my eye in the article.

Quote.

Long before “immersive theater” became trendy — before “Sleep No More” and escape rooms — people were excited by the interactivity of “Cats,” especially during the overture. Known backstage as the “green eyes” portion, it’s when the cats slither among the audience in the dark and suddenly their green eyes light up. (Rest assured, the revival isn’t cutting this out.)

End quote.

Rest assured as of this morning, we haven’t heard a peep about doing Green Eyes in this revival.

But someone said something to the Times.

Probably someone who wants to guarantee those eyes are back in those aisles.

Oy.

Dear Broadway Jesus, 

Please don’t let S.F. Peter be one of the cats that has to do Green Eyes. 

Please. 

And, thank you.

Love,

Christopher


EXCERPT : Some Words from Andy About the Opening and… Everything

Paper notes for the first hour or so based on last night’s preview. Before we get to specifics, Andy says,

“There's an emotional cliff you can put yourself on: burn up or fly.  Put yourself on that cliff of abandon. The stakes are so high, the tribe is frenetic.”

And, 

“Remember the specificity of emotionally responding as a cat versus how they, an audience member, would respond.” 

And,

“They—we—the cats—can see far away, through the dark and through time, through emotion. Such a selfishness that we in the audience want to be on stage, as cats.”


BULLET POINTS

Tag-team Notes from Andy and Chrissie, Trevor holding back for now

  • Chrissie, thread together the opening solo lines
  • Andy, in Jellicle Cats, winning the argument because you know where you're going
  • Chrissie, Elbows back harder just before “fly through the air” 
  • Andy, Stall step in “practical cats”,  it should be gurgling lava, hit this step harder
  • Chrissie, “Statistical” missed that 
  • Chrissie, Strafing audience with your eyes over elbow elbow elbow elbow
  • Andy, More on fire with the step before AND after “there's a man over there” 
  • Andy, What’s the focus for “There's a man over there”? (This starts an extended discussion of where Jeremy and Andy B. will be looking for said man, and—therefore—where we’ll all be looking)
  • Chrissie, focus up to the mezzanine more, we’re losing faces 
  • Andy, Ritual step : do it like Chrissie 

EXCERPT : The Sermon On The Rake

We all stay where we are—seated on and around the tire—and Trevor comes up on stage and joins us on the floor. He kneels down, sitting back on his heels, facing us with his pad and his hair and he gives his final notes.

Has he noticed that we’re all wearing some version of his all-denim uniform today? If so, I bet someone had to point it out to him. It’s not the sort of thing he’d notice on his own, really. The whole point of his wearing the same thing day after day—I imagine—is so he doesn’t have to give it a single thought. If he has noticed, I hope he’s taken it in the spirit it was intended, not to make fun but to show our affection. At least that’s why I joined in.

Come to think of it, we can’t be the first cast to have done this. We might be more like the fiftieth. If he’s thinking anything about it, it’s probably,

“Yes, yes. You’re all wearing denim. Lovely. Yes. That’s what I wear, too. Now, I’ve got some notes…”

And he does.


BULLET POINTS : Trevor’s Parting Shots for The Tribe

  • I meant what I said - a great leap forward last night
  • I had friends in the house who said afterwards that they didn't know it was so emotional 
  • Don't go back on the emotional commitment 
  • Also the extremis the cats get into at ball, McCavity, Griz, ... We're dealing with cats. We think domestically... There are also BIG cats... Very dangerous. Let your faces go to that BIG CAT place. 
  • Don't go back on the category section 
  • Up the vocal level on "above and beyond..."
  • There is always an outsider to the tribe 
  • Forgiveness is the most emotional thing you can conjure up. It’s the center of so many Shakespeare plays. 
  • The final touch between Victoria and Griz is the action of forgiveness. 
  • In the receiving line for Griz some of you can be playing, “Well, I wouldn't have been such a shit, if…” 
  • The message "very much like you" is us being able to forgive at the end of the evening. 

Trevor’s notes for me:

  • As Bustopher nod to Jeremy as opposed that nuzzle/bow. Remember his class.
  • Softer and more frightened "McCavity" for the exit.
  • In “Gus” remember that glancing look to Jelly
  • A touch more on “bloodcurdling”

I agree with three out of those four notes, so… That’s not bad. And I’ll try to figure out the one I don’t agree with.

As his final laying on of hands, Trevor works some details of the ending with us on our feet and with Chrissie in close attendance.

Wonderful moment when I believe I can see and hear Chrissie’s brain seize up when one of the company asks whether we—the tribe—can see and hear Sillabub singing “Memory” with Griz and Trevor says, 

“Yes.”

I don’t think “yes” was the canonically correct answer. Certainly not to our Keeper Of The Canon, Chrissie.

I don’t think anyone saw the seize but me. It was the briefest of moments.

It was beautiful. 

A little haiku of cognitive dissonance.


EXCERPT : #OldGreenEyesAreBack

Speaking of the Cats Canon, the New York Times was not misinformed. We spend part of today’s rehearsal adding the Green Eyes section to the middle of the overture. 

S.F. Peter is spared the indignity.

Thank you, Broadway Jesus.


EXCERPT : Goodbye Mr. Chips

At the end of the afternoon session I hug it out with Trevor in the house right aisle, squeezing him hard and telling him I’ll miss him, which is true. He’s off to Vienna to work on a new Stephen Schwartz project that he’s very excited about.

I tell him to please come back and see us. 

He assures me he will.

I hope so.


Cats : Day Fifty-two of Rehearsal

Thursday, July 21st, 2016

10 DAYS TO OPENING

Preview #7

Clever Trevor & The Timely Exit


8:00am Crew, Work Call Dry Tech 

9:30am – 12:00pm Orchestra Call 

12:00pm FULL CAST on Stage – No Costumes, Hair nor Make-Up

1:00pm FULL CAST Into Mics 

4:45pm Break down Tech Tables 

5:00pm Cast Dinner 

6:30pm – 7:30pm Orchestra Continuity Call 

7:00pm FULL CAST into Costumes, Hair & Make-Up

7:10pm Lift Call 

7:15pm Wig Calls begin 

7:30pm Half-Hour 

7:45pm Photo Call in Basement Warm-Up Area – Fauré, Jones, Smith

8:00pm Preview #7

FITTINGS:
12:00pm Davis
TBD Bausilio, Gaymon, Leprotto (Cockroach heads) 


EXCERPT : In Which I Rant

Tonight’s show. Best audience since first preview. Again, the green eyes in the audience amp them up. I just wish the prop looked… better. Surely, with today’s technology… But, they seem to do the trick.

My Bustopher was not what it was last night. Just a titch off. Gus was pretty good and pretty much stayed in the place I left him the night before, which is also pretty good.

Then there’s the new intermission thing.

Today at the end of the afternoon rehearsal Ira had a few bulletins for us. That PT was indeed being increased both on-site and at the PT studio. And that, indeed as Trevor had spoken of before—wisely—leaving the country, we would be re-instating the visitation part of intermission, where folks can (god help us) come up on stage and visit Old Deuteronomy as he sits on the tire.

Well, I just hate this. I really do. I was gob-smacked the first time someone told me this was a part of the original run and I’m dismayed that someone—Who? Trevor? Cameron? Andrew? I’ll guarantee you it wasn’t Andy—insisted that it be put back in. 

“Thirty-five years in the history of this show…!” 

was Trevor’s rejoinder to the small cast push-back when it was brought up. 

Well, that’s bullshit. 

So what? 

Is it iconic to the show? 

When Trevor and I were struggling over “Toodle-Pip” and I had come back to him after the failure of the Macavity/Toodle-Pip exit attempt to suggest maybe we just put it back where it had been originally, he seemed so relieved. And, as I told him, when several people found out what roles I was playing and that Bustopher was one of them, the first thing out of their mouths was, “Toodle Pip!”

“Well, you’ve won the argument,” said Trevor. “It’s iconic.”

“Just like the green eyes in audience.” I continued. “People are always asking me if there will be those eyes—“

“Yes!” he agrees, “They’re iconic!”

He didn’t try to paint the Rumpus mask with the iconic brush and I didn’t bring it up. That ship had sailed and that mask was going to be a part of my every show until I leave or we close, whichever comes first. So be it. He was right about it, it works, and it ends up solving a couple of problems I was having, and some day I’ll tell him as much.

BUT! The Santa-At-Macy’s intermission with Old Deuteronomy is not in the same category AT ALL. 

The green eyes in spooking the audience are setting them along the path of not knowing exactly what’s in store for them with the cats, these animals, who have gathered in the dark. Who can see in the dark, when they, the audience, can not. That’s both iconic and dramaturgically sound and leads directly into the opening lines of the evening. 

Though the execution of the eyes looks cheesy to me, their existence makes sense.

Toodle-pip sticks in the mind of audiences both British and American because of its silly sounds AND its usage by the character is a marker of playfulness (programmatically useful to the extreme) and class, which is the entire raison d'être of the number, at least as rationalized by Trevor and the original creators as they strung these random poems together into a story.

But but but, BUT—BUT (as Trevor might say) Old Deuteronomy remains on stage during the interval to keep the narrative ball in the air. To keep the action of the play and, indeed, the action of this tribe of cats, in motion. The point is that—though there is a relaxation in audience attention for fifteen or so minutes while lights in the auditorium come up, concessions are bought and consumed, bathrooms attended, t-shirts and sparkly black head-band-ears purchased, iPhones checked and instagrams instagrammed, etc.—all that while, there sits Old Deuteronomy, on the tire, in contemplation not of his name, name, name, name, name, but of what he has just witnessed:

At the end of the ball, poor Grizabella returns to the junkyard and, one by one, the cats all leave her. Some in fear, some in disgust, some because they are simply instructed to be repulsed by her by their elders. What they do to Griz—what they do to this outsider—is a terrible reflection on these cats, and—by extension—we humans. 

It’s terrible how they and we create outsiders to build up our own desperately felt need to belong. 

Deuteronomy has witnessed all this during the ball but when all the other cats leave Griz alone, he stays, unseen by her and he witnesses the even further heartbreak of Grizabella acting out her longing to belong and her pain in being rejected both by the tribe and her own body. Her own body’s decay is as much her enemy as these awful, entitled cats. 

She lives her pain and slinks off into the night, alone, and Old Deuteronomy witnesses this and… 

He sits. 

And thinks. 

And contemplates what has happened.

What his tribe has done.

What they are doing. 

He sit and sits and sits and sits and—as the house lights go down for act two—the cats shamefacedly return and settle into a respectful silence and THEREFORE Deuteronomy’s thoughts well up and out of his heart and mind and body and he sings the most glorious piece in the show, 

“The Moments of Happiness”

That’s a hell of a dramatic arc. From the start of the ball and its progression from formality to joy to ecstasy to near violence, through the tribe’s abandonment of Griz, to Deuteronomy’s solitary contemplation, to the tribe’s return and Old D’s “sermon” to the tribe that starts them on their path to enlightenment and forgiveness. 

Forgiveness! 

The message of the play! 

Trevor told us so in his final sermon to us! 

Emphatically! 

But, wait! Here’s an idea…

While Old Deuteronomy—whom we have done everything in our theatrical power to imbue with gravitas and wisdom and dignity in spite of his Fraggle-cum-Yarn-Monster appearance—while he sits there working out the future of his tribe, the way out of this moral morass into which they have lowered themselves—while he sits with his pain, and Griz’s pain, and his tribe's pain… 

Let’s bring up audience members to talk with him, get his autograph, use him as a prop in a selfie.

Yes! Let’s do that! That contributes so much to what we are trying to do here. It supports our story so well. It strengthen’s the message of the play.

I am, of course, being facetious. 

It does none of these things. 

Audience members during the thirty-five year history of Cats may have liked it, they may have loved it, they may complain if it’s missing, but we mustn’t, we mustn’t, we absolutely must NOT let them tell us how these things go. 

We tell them. 

That’s our job. 

Ugh.

I need a drink.


Cats : Day Fifty-three of Rehearsal

Friday, July 22nd, 2016

9 DAYS TO OPENING

Preview #8

We’re Gonna Be On The T.V.


8:00am Crew, Work Call Dry Tech 

12:00pm FULL CAST on Stage (sans Lewis) – No Costumes, Hair nor Make-Up

1:00pm FULL CAST Into Mics 

3:00pm ADD Lewis

3:00pm – 5:30pm Keyboards Call 

4:45pm Break down Tech Tables 

5:00pm Cast Dinner 

6:30pm – 7:30pm Orchestra Continuity Call 

6:30pm FULL CAST (sans Darrington, Gurr, Hanes, Lewis) – rehearse with Orchestra

7:00pm FULL CAST into Costumes, Hair & Make-Up

7:10pm Lift Call 

7:15pm Wig Calls begin 

7:30pm Half-Hour 

8:00pm Preview #8

Post-Show Ford, Gaymon, Hanes – AMEX Photo Op (in Costume, Hair & Make-Up) 

TBD – Bausilio, Gaymon, LeProtto into Cockroach heads & wigs 


AN EMAIL : About Time

From: Stage Management
Subject: New Wig Call and Lift Call Times
Date: July 22, 2016 at 11:06:48 PM EDT
To: Cast

Attached, please find a new Wig Call sheet and a Lift Call sheet. We need to move towards a more efficient pre-show prep. Make sure you are ready and in your chair for your appointment.

Also, Kim and Corey are offering a warm-up in the Lower Lobby at 12:00pm for anyone interested.

Best,

Ira


EXCERPT : I’m Surrounded

Paper notes. Andy very happy with last night’s show. He had friends in and they really liked it and me, he tells me in the longest exchange I’ve had with him to date. Lovely.

One of the great joys of this process—as I’ve mentioned here before—has been watching the twins at work, both on their own and with Andy. 

Another great joy is watching Ellenore demonstrate anything, but most wonderfully anything involving super-granular physical articulation.

Today there was a wonderful moment where I was hanging out where I never am during the show, on top of the car boot—car trunk to us Yanks—and on either side of the stage these two things were happening simultaneously. The twins were working on some new synchronicity and Ellenore and Shonica were hitting a particularly Blankenbuehler-esque step and chiseling the air like cut glass.

I’m surrounded by so much talent. 

What a joy. 

What a gift.


AN EMAIL : Looking Ahead

From: Stage Management
Subject: Upcoming schedule
Date: July 22, 2016 at 12:39:05 PM EDT
To: Cast

Hi Cast,

Opening Night is nearly upon us and the happy process of settling into a regular schedule (even with the day off switch for the Fall) is in sight.

You will be getting the August/September calendars in a few days but I need to apprise you of a couple of things coming up right away.

1) We are going to appear on "Good Morning America" the week after we open. This involves the following;

Friday, 7/29 - In the afternoon we will rehearse the piece we are going to perform (most likely part of the Opening into part of Memory) and then make a scratch tape for the GMA team.

Tuesday, 8/2 - The exact timeframe for this day is still tbd but you need to hold the late morning and the afternoon. On this day we will pre-tape items for the package that will air (interviews, backstage tour, teaching the anchor some choreography, getting her into make-up/wig/costume and putting her into the number we taught).

Thursday, 8/4 - This is the day of our live appearance from the theatre. It will be a VERY EARLY call (think 5:00am). We will get ready, do some camera rehearsal and then participate throughout the morning broadcast (bumpers, weather spots and the performance of our number) from 7:00am-9:00am. There will be a small audience of a few hundred for the theatrical feel.

2) Our first scheduled Swing appearance will be on Saturday, 8/6. Madison Mitchell will be on as 'Demeter'. There will be a Put-In Rehearsal on Friday, 8/5 in the afternoon.

Let me know if you have any questions.

Best,

Ira


Cats : Day Fifty-four of Rehearsal

Saturday, July 23rd, 2016

8 DAYS TO OPENING

Previews #9 and #10

Strong Start, Strong Finish


EXCERPT : Small Bookends

A hot one in NYC. Great day to be in a dark theatre all day and night.

The beginning of my workday was this:

At the matinee there’s a grown woman in the front row during “Naming” saying softly over and over and over,

“I’m so happy! I’m so happy! I’m so happy!”

The end of my workday was this:

After the evening show there was a much older woman on stage door line. As I was signing her playbill she grabbed my arm and said, 

“You were just like Peter O’Toole out there!”

My work is done.

Goodnight, New York!

Tomorrow I head out early to Fire Island to join M at his time share. Venetian spritzes, beach time, pool time, adult conversation not about theatre—I hope—and much needed extracurricular activity.

Yes.

Please.


AN EMAIL :  From Himself

From: Andy Blankenbuehler
Subject: Celebration for Chrissie
Date: July 25, 2016 at 10:44:21 AM EDT
To: Cast

Hello dream cast,

I hope you’re all having a great 2 days off!  You deserve it!  

Tomorrow night after the show, I would love for the entire cast to join me in a night out of food and drinks to give a huge thanks to Chrissie.  She has been a tremendous source of knowledge, inspiration, clarity and humility throughout this entire process.  Before things get crazy with opening, I want us all to take the chance to show her how we feel about her.

I have made a reservation at Landmarc on the third floor of the Time Warner Building immediately following the show.  Food and drinks will be on me.  I want this to be a surprise for Chrissie, so don’t tell her.  Please get out of make up and costume as quickly as possible, so that this doesn’t become too late of a night prior to our last rehearsal day.

Thanks for helping me to show Chrissie how much we value her being with us!  See you tomorrow.

Andy


Cats : Day Fifty-seven of Rehearsal

Tuesday, July 26th, 2016

5 DAYS TO OPENING

Preview #11

The Passing of Mr. Jimmy


EXCERPT : Our Responsibility

At the beginning of our session Andy talked about the passing of Mr. Jimmy Nederlander yesterday and all the people who he had given opportunities to over the decades and our responsibility to honor that.

He talked about seeing Shuffle Along the night before and what visceral, emotional work they’re doing over there and our responsibility to honor that.

“We are,” he said, “responsible to be honest.”

He hands us over to Kristen, who rises with her notepad, sniffling and reaching for a tissue.

“I’m sorry,” she says drying her tears. “I was just moved by that.”

She smiles.

“But I do have notes.”


EXCERPT : He Belongs to the Dancers, And They Belong To Him

Taxi ride home from Chrissie’s party at Landmarc, which was great. 

I was sitting at the older end of the table—me, Sara, the two Kims, Chrissie, all just lovely folks—Sara and I were comparing notes on a moment from the evening’s show when Andy B. comes up behind us,

“Are you going over a moment in Gus? I’m outta here,” he jokes. 

I clock it and laugh and leave it as off he goes. 

At the end of the night Sara and I shared a taxi back to 181st Street. We we’ere riding along in the dark up the Westside Highway when—out of the blue—she says,

“If we had been talking about a dance moment, he would have stayed.”

I smile in the dark. And nod.

“Yeah. I know he was making a joke, but… well it’s true: Andy belongs to the dancers and they belong to him.”

I remember feeling the same way with Casey Nicholaw. 

The dancers are the cool kids, the actors and singers are the nerds. Life continues to be high school. Unless a nerd is in charge, like a Trevor or a Mike Nichols, the actors are the odd man out in musical theatre. 

Andy’s going to figure that out. 

Actually, based on watching him think over these last nine weeks, I bet he figured it out a while back. He just—maybe—doesn’t quite know what to do about it yet. And—maybe—the weird multi-headed hydra that has been the leadership on this project has made it so he can’t just talk with us all in the same way. 

Clearly—on the next one—Andy is going to be the only leader. Whatever the next one is. 

He’s a director/choreographer, there's no doubt about it. 

Can’t wait to see what come from him when his are the only of hands on the wheel.


Cats : Day Fifty-eight of Rehearsal

Wednesday, July 27th, 2016

4 DAYS TO OPENING

Preview #12

The Passing of Mr. Champion


EXCERPT : Last Note Wins

All notes on feet today. Andy’s working fast as it’s his last day. As least that’s our guess. No one’s said as much, officially.

Andy finds me in the dark of the theatre while lights is working on stage. He sits behind me and still looking at the lights progressing, pats me on the shoulder and says,

“Good show, good show last night.”

“Thank you, sir.”

“In Bustopher…”

“Yes?”

“I talked to Andrew—“

Inside my head, 

Oh, lord.

“—and there was a confusion in communication somewhere—“

WHAT is about to hit me?

“—You shouldn’t be saying ‘toodle pip’ on the button.”

Oh?

“You should be saying it after your ‘MacCavity!’ before the exit.”

Out loud I say, “Ah. I see. Yes.”

There was no confusion. That’s what Trevor and I finally landed on and I’ve been doing it that way for the last six shows. Since Trevor was last with us. 

But, Trevor’s gone now. 

You can just hear Carol Channing sweetly growling, “But, Lee Roy, Gower is dead.” 

And he was. 

Last Note Wins.

And it did. 


Cats : Day Fifty-nine of Rehearsal

Thursday, July 28th, 2016

3 DAYS TO OPENING

Preview #13

Call Me Miss Birdseye


EXCERPT : I Dreamed A Dream

I dreamt last night that Chrissie tracked me down in the back of the darkened theatre and let me know that there were some original Bustopher Jones lines that she wanted me to put back in.

That she wanted me to sneak back in.

I wake up smiling from this dream.


THE LAST REHEARSAL AND A BLUR OF BULLET POINTS :

  • Jimmy Ludwig & Squigs coming tonight and that means a drawing is in our future! 
  • Chrissie says our hands are dreadful and gives her last Felinity Lecture, making me remember Gillian’s short moments with us
  • More eyes, more eyes, more eyes! The dark and the makeup and the wigs are defeating us, it seems.
  • BUT, this from Andy, “The design gets you halfway to where you need the audience to be so what you add doesn’t need to be the same thing, that would be a hat on a hat, you can add some other dimension.”
  • Also from Andy, “Burn not like burlesque but like you’re being chased in a nightmare.” I am so shocked by this image that I quite forget what moment he was noting. “Macavity”?
  • The Passover Question note, like clockwork
  • A good adjustment from Andy, re: Gus. Which reminds me why I liked my audition for him in the first place
  • More notes, notes, notes, notes, notes from Andy, Chrissie, Kristen then Kristen, Chrissie, Andy and then—

We’re frozen.


More…

Probably in about a year.

That was the last rehearsal we had for the show. We did have a rehearsal on the Friday before opening, but that was to figure out the Good Morning America broadcast.

We played a preview Friday night, and two on Saturday. Between the Thursday night preview and the Saturday night preview, the critics came and went. We’d hear from them on Sunday night, even before Griz was in the air.

Opening was grand. And I’ve got a long, long entry about all that. The best of it being that I got to recite “The Naming of Cats” along with the original Broadway Deuteronomy as he—Ken Page—was directly in front of me in the second row, dressed all in white. There I was as Sassy Fucking Peter, draped on the lip of the stage, making eye contact with various audience members when I spotted him.

We locked eyes and—together, word for word—he and I spoke “..But above and beyond…” through “…Deep and inscrutable, singular name” to and for each other.

And for all the cats in between.

At least that's how it felt in that moment on that night.

The details of that, and why his being there was particularly fitting for me, are to come.

As I said, in about a year.

Whatever the full and final form or forms this diary takes—printed book, digital book, audio book—my aim is to have it out this time next year, January 2019, to coincide with the launching of the revival tour of Cats.

That’s my plan. 

Tell me if you dig it.

And, thanks for reading this.


Chapter Twelve is the final chapter in the excerpted version of Another Cat's Diary : Reports From The Fringes Of A Tribe. 

The complete book, in print, eBook, and audio book forms, will be published in January of 2019.

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