Excerpts From Another Cat's Diary : Chapter Eleven : The Last Ingredients

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

This chapter includes adult language. 

Welcome back.

I'm late in releasing this chapter. Apologies to the faithful readers and/or listeners. It was a combination of double duty and—to be honest—dragging my feet a little in reviewing this week in the process.

You’ll see why.


Here we go.

Cats : Day Forty-two of Rehearsal

Monday, July 11th, 2016



It’s Better With A Band

8:00am, Crew, Work Call & Dry Tech 

9:00am - 12:00pm, Orchestra Sound Check 

11:00am ADD Booth Singers, Adams, Albano, Hendy, Mitchell, Morgan, Ort 

12:00pm FULL CAST (sans Lewis) into Costumes & Hair, NO MAKE-UP 

1:00pm Cast on Stage with Orchestra Top of Show 

2:15pm ADD Lewis 

5:00pm Cast & Orchestra Dinner 

6:30pm FULL CAST into Costumes & Hair, NO MAKE-UP 

7:00pm Cast on Stage – Continue Rehearsal 

7:30pm – 10:30pm Orchestra Call 

11:30pm Cast out of costumes and wigs 

12:00am End of Day 

EXCERPT : Over the Weekend

Today is Monday. On Friday the three Equity deputies—Cory John Snide, Kim Fauré, and I—got an email from Keith at Equity checking in about tech in general and the shoe situation in particular. Keith got a thumbs-up from me—easy, I’m the deputy for the principals, there are only six of us—a qualified thumbs-up from Cory—fairly easy, he’s responsible for and to the boys of the ensemble—and a thumbs-down from Kim, the female ensemble’s representative. 

Shoes are not the only issue on the table. There’s the rake, the floor surface, PT, etc. The three of us are going to meet in my dressing room at the end of the dinner break to compare notes, triage the list, and plan our communication… plan.

I think we’re a good combo as a deputy team. We’re all reasonable and articulate and able to see the big picture as well as the details. And—I think—we’re empathetic, both to our fellow actors and to the myriad production folk whom we depend upon and with whom we are collaborating. 

Honestly, that’s just me both projecting and wishfully thinking. I really don’t know either of them that well. But, here’s what I know for sure, purely from observation in rehearsal:

They are incredibly good at their jobs,

they hold themselves to a high standard,  

and they both have smiles that are genuine; not an insignificant thing.

As a place to start, I’ll take it.

EXCERPT : Our Numbers Increase

We’re heading into our seventh day of tech, also our seventh day of work without a day off, and our sixth ten-out-of-twelve day.

It’s about now that we need a booster rocket and today we get one in the form of our band joining us, if from a slight remove.

Ming Aldrich-Gan (keyboard) and Bill Lanham (drums) Cats Technical Rehearsal / Neil Simon Theatre July 2016  photo credit : Christopher Gurr 

Ming Aldrich-Gan (keyboard) and Bill Lanham (drums)
Cats Technical Rehearsal / Neil Simon Theatre
July 2016

photo credit : Christopher Gurr 

When we transferred our rehearsal process into the theater the prop guys and the electrics crew and the sound team set up Bill’s drum kit and a mic’d upright piano, usually manned by Ming, in the far house left area of the theatre where the first three or four rows of seats would be. Kristin or William have been conducting from right next to them, basically standing at the lip of the stage in the stage right aisle. Today we gain eleven additional musicians, but we lose them all to their newly built home in the basement.

Where, during my run here in All The Way, there were several worse-for-wear sofas, a coffee table or two, and a bunch of old character actors sitting around telling stories and reading the paper, there is now a warm up area with a very small dance floor and a bar, but also—taking up the majority of the basement—a studio for our orchestra built especially for Cats. Between the dance area and the band room, with a large plexiglass window looking in a the orchestra, is the “booth” where the boothies will stand and sing during the show. 

I put booth in quotes because it’s—surprisingly—not really a booth but a curtained off section of the room. The band is isolated with actual walls—a room within a room—which, while it doesn’t look like it would be sound proof does seem sound prohibitive. Right now there’s nothing but a curtain separating the off-stage singers and their microphones from anything else that might be going on in the basement. 

That seems unwise. 

That also seems to be way out of my lane. Thank God.

Here’s who’s joining us today:

Two more keyboard players, four string players (there’s two violin books, one violin/viola book, and one cello book), two woodwind players (covering flute, saxes, and clarinets), one guitarist (playing electric and acoustic, plus the banjo), one bassist (playing both electric and acoustic), and an additional percussionist who will play mallets, gongs, timpani, etc. for a grand total of thirteen in our pit-in-a-box.

I believe there were twenty-three musicians at the Winter Garden for the original production. 

They’ll be with us all day today, so we—and some of the wizards out there in the dark—will be spending a large chunk of energy figuring out listening and hearing in a new way. And, for the cast, watching. The maestro is also moving downstairs and will now appear to us on two video monitors hung on the rail along the front of the mezzanine. Some conductors who are easy to read in real life and in three dimensions are not so easy to ready in 2-D on a screen. And vice versa. Some are equally clear on both. Today we begin to sort out where Kristin and William fall on that continuum.

Cats : Day Forty-three of Rehearsal

Tuesday, July 12th, 2016



Talkin' 'Bout My Generation

8:00am Crew, Work Call Dry Tech 

12:00pm FULL CAST into Costumes, & Hair (NO MAKE-UP) 

12:15pm Darrington, Lewis on Stage (in Costumes, no Wigs) – Dry Tech Tire and Flight 

12:45pm Cast on Stage – Work Notes 

2:30pm Cast on Stage with Orchestra Continue to end of show 

5:00pm Cast, Orchestra Dinner 

6:30pm FULL CAST into Costumes, Hair & Make-Up 

7:15pm Cast on Stage – Continue Rehearsal 

7:30pm – 10:30pm Orchestra Call 

11:30pm Cast out of Costumes, Hair & Make-Up 

12:00am End of Day 

EMAIL : Another Department Heard From

While we’re working on stage an email whooshes in from DKCO&M, our press reps for the show:

TO: All Concerned
FROM: Rick Miramontez / Ryan Ratelle / Brendan Charles
DATE: July 12, 2016, 1:46PM

RE: CATS Photo Op – Thursday, July 14

This confirms your participation in a photo op, in conjunction with CATS, Thursday, July 14. Details are as follows: 

Location: Neil Simon

11:30 AM Full company called to the theatre. Official CATS t-shirts will be provided for all to change into. 

11:45 AM 12:00 PM Photographers, video crews, and journalists called to the theatre

12:00 PM The entire cast will come out through the stage door and pose for a group portrait underneath the marquee, celebrating the first performance and the new generation of CATS. After photos, select cast members will be asked to do a few one-on-one interviews. 

12:30 PM Photo op is completed and cast is excused.

We are always available at ###-###-#### if you have any questions. Thank you, as always, for your time and cooperation. 

Rick, Ryan, & Brendan

A Blur of Bullet Points :

  • Still fighting the music of Bustopher or “Sorry, Trevor! Just throw a boot at me the next time.”
  • Better on Gus and a small step towards reclaiming him for myself.
  • First full run tonight
  • Costume, wig, and makeup changes made. Easily. God bless Philip for being Philip. And Hailie for being Hailie. And Victoria for being Victoria. Casting. It’s everything, in every department.
  • How surprised I am by how moving the end sequence is from end of “Memory” through the flight of Grizabella. 
  • A hug from Andy afterwards and the astonishing fact that I’m still astonished when he actually sees me. Which says more about me than about him, I suppose.
  • Heading home with more in the accomplishment column than in the frustration column.
  • Go to bed trying to bend my mind towards enjoying tomorrow’s press thing, as opposed to… resenting it? Hiding from it? I hate the whole photo thing. Happy to talk about a show anytime with anyone, but photo ops? Kill me, now.

Cats : Day Forty-four of Rehearsal

Wednesday, July 13th, 2016



Before We Let The World In

8:00am Crew Work Call Dry Tech 

9:00am – 12:00pm Orchestra Call 

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

1:00pm FULL CAST Into Mics 

2:30pm – 5:00pm Orchestra Call 

5:00pm Cast, Orchestra Dinner 

6:30pm FULL CAST into Costumes, Hair & Make-Up 

8:00pm Final Orchestra Dress – Photos and B-Roll taken 

11:30pm out of Costumes, Hair & Make-Up

12:00am End of Day 

EXCERPT : The Stress Of It All

Phone session with Ingrid this morning just before the call at the theater so I booked a Breather Space on 6th Ave near Bryant Park.  Knocked out a draft email for the deputies while I was waiting for my session to start.

Breather Space View July 13, 2016  photo credit : Christopher Gurr

Breather Space View
July 13, 2016

photo credit : Christopher Gurr

Email sent to Kim and Corey for their approval I settle in on the phone for some much needed therapy.

Ingrid has a lot of theatre folks that she helps. It’s the main reason I went with her when I was looking for a therapist. Even so, I find myself trying to explain the mental state of the company—and my mental state—at this point in the tech process. 

At this point the stakes are increasing—we have our first audience tomorrow plus there are more executive eyes out there in the dark—and the obstacles are increasing. We can’t hear, we’re fighting costumes, the floor, the props, the building itself seems determined to freeze us to death. We’re fighting fatigue and doubt and fear in various forms and at various levels. And that’s just what’s going on inside the Neil Simon. The outside world seems to be falling apart as well and the cocktail of fear and anger and helplessness about all that just adds to the tensions that are normal in tech. 

When people are being killed in the streets and you’re playing dress up as a cat…? 

It can mess with you. 

It should mess with you. 

It does mess with you.

I know I’m not telling Ingrid anything she isn’t already aware of, but I’m compelled to talk about it. As if by accurately describing it I can prevent the event from having power over me.

Which I suppose could be a telling and suitable subtitle for this whole diary.

EXCERPT : They Know Everything

This is the last day we will spend together without the presence of the public. 

But their presence has been looming, nearer and nearer since we came to the theater.

When I was doing the national tour of Spamalot, Mike Nichols said to us of the audience, 

“Individually, they know nothing. As a group, they know everything.”

Performers think of the audience in many different ways.

A Monster (as in “we have to feed the monster…”)

The Enemy (as in “it’s us versus them…”)

Civilians (meaning “those not in our ranks…”)

Muggles (meaning “those without magic…”)

The Money (as in “those who pays for us, puts food in our mouths, and clothes on our backs…”)

All kinds of versions of “them” or “the other.”

There are ways to think of the audience as “us.” It’s just a trickier proposition for most. But, it really is a better way to go.

Cats : Day Forty-five of Rehearsal

Thursday, July 14th, 2016



To Quote Gillian, “It Is Not One Of My Better Days”

8:00am Crew, Work Call Dry Tech 

11:30am FULL CAST for Publicity Photo 

12:15pm FULL CAST on Stage (No Costumes, Hair or Make-Up) 

Some Cast will continue with Press until 12:30pm

1:00pm FULL CAST Into Mics 

3:00pm – 5:30pm Orchestra Call 

4:30pm Break down Tech Tables 

5:00pm Cast Dinner 

6:30pm FULL CAST (sans Lewis) -- into Costumes, Hair & Make-Up

7:00pm ADD Lewis

7:30pm Half-Hour 

8:00pm Preview #1

Post-Show Production Meeting 


EXCERPT : I Am Old. I Am Ugly. I Embarrass You. You Are Ashamed Of Me. You Are Ashamed. 


Press call this morning at 11:30. Iconic Cats t-shirts for all. Group photo and some video. I man up and wade in and—mostly because I enjoy everyone in the cast so much—it’s almost fun. The usual suspects in the photography swarm. There are people in our cast who know their names. 

I do not. 

I am also not asked to stay for one-on-one interviews. 

That hurts. 

Much, much more than I would like it to.

I’ll carry that hurt all day.


Turns out I’ll carry that hurt for five hundred and forty-seven days and counting.

EXCERPT : We’re Two Lost Souls

During the break to get into mics Lisa Zinni came up the dressing room. I’m sitting there licking my wounds and she—bless her—has made the climb up to warn me about the talk that is going on downstairs about Gus/Rumpus. 

Andy likes it. 

Trevor seems of two minds and is also a bit muddled—I feel—about Gus being frail, Rumpus (whom Trevor sometimes still calls Firefrorefiddle) being fierce, and which is which and when. 

And ALW, it seems, is finding change, in general, to be hard. 

Lisa and I are caught in the middle. 

I feel her pain, and she feels mine. God bless her for seeking me out and letting me know what’s coming my way. For the second time. 

What’s coming my way is a fucking—

EXCERPT : And therefore…

I made no secret of my disappointment to Trevor when he broached it with me AFTER our entire rehearsal today—our entirely successful rehearsal by Trevor’s own lights.

He finds me in the house.

“…the next shock” he says “is that you’ll have a mask—“

I drop my head. 



And internally deeply pissed off. 

And he actually takes my face in his hands and raises it back up and continues, 

“—it’s been made too big for the moment, but it will have demonic eyes—“

Oh, for the love of Christ…

“—and it will be open, for jaws and—“

Go away, Trevor.

“—there will be a grayer, older look underneath—“

Fine. I don’t really care. You can stop talking now.

“—and the coat will be more tattered—“

I’m just silent. On the outside. On the inside… I’m just silent.

A fucking mask. 

“It won’t be ready for tonight, of course—“

Like that makes it OK.

Just give someone else the part. Because I just don’t care. I cared deeply until this very moment. I took in all Trevor’s and Andy’s and Kristen’s and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s notes and sold them and made them work for me and for them. I thought.

Oh! One last thing, small thing really: we’re putting you in a mask.

Oh, fuck off. The only person in this building who hasn’t been picking away at the carcass of poor old Gus is Chrissie. I want to leave this theatre, take Chrissie with me, and go get a drink. Preferably on a different continent. 

The Daily Change Sheet and First Preview Playbill Cats / Neil Simon Theatre July 14, 2107  photo credit : Christopher Gurr

The Daily Change Sheet and First Preview Playbill
Cats / Neil Simon Theatre
July 14, 2107

photo credit : Christopher Gurr

First Preview Bullet Points :

  • Bit of snafu with mics and wig calls and Ira on the PA, “Here’s to that being our biggest problem all night.” 
  • Loading into my sewer pipe at places, crouching in the darkness
  • Overture and audience explosion
  • Huge response at end of “Jellicle Songs” and holding for “there’s a man over there…”
  • The woman in the first row reciting “Naming of Cats” with me. Looking back at her as I exit. The faithful. That’ll get me through a year.
  • Bustopher - landing, still not quite right? I don’t think they know what to make of it. I don’t think I know what to make of it. Bit of grapefruit sorbet, this one.
  • Ball response. Feel like a cheat being on stage for that hand, but it’s nice to be in its presence.
  • New unitard at intermission. Very tight. Wait, this used to belong to—
  • Running a new version of Pekes & Pols with Andy Jones in our dressing room
  • Nerves heading in to Act II and Gus/Rumpus sequence and some part of my brain trying to do the “Molasses To Rum” routine. Mostly banished those demons, though. Mostly.
  • Laughs in Gus. Keeping Gus just about Gus. So glad I do have the shape mapped out. 
  • Thankful for my time in the dressing room alone after my big act II sequence.
  • Back down for Misto ending and into the audience. Bah. Humbug.
  • What’s odd is going out in the audience in the curtain call. What is the action of that? The audience seems not to know what is being asked of them. And I quite agree with their position.
  • Jelly and I and our counts for the bows. Two eights. I bow first, then her. Sara—very sweetly—says I should have the second bow. We settle on switching it up every night. Or, perhaps, just making out for eight counts before passing the ball to Leona.
  • Champagne toast in the basement after the show
  • Talking with costumes and hair after the toast and there was no mention of the mask at the production meeting...
  • As Carol Oune filled my glass (for the third time) she shared with me that she had crocheted one of the patches on Gus’ cloak. I’m so raw, I almost cried when she told me. 
  • Congrats all around. Then to the stage door.

EXCERPT : And that's 'cause none of us got enough love in our childhoods. And that's showbiz... Kid

Cats Stage Door / Neil Simon Theatre July 14, 2016

Cats Stage Door / Neil Simon Theatre
July 14, 2016

Still lots of folks on line ouside and I thoroughly enjoy the signing and chatting and selfies. Some are brave enough to ask who we played. Fair enough. Two young people (Teens? Twenties? Who the hell knows?) said they saw me on for Man In Yellow Suit during Tuck. Aren’t I a lucky man to have been in this and that? 

It is really muggy on the line since we had that thunderstorm earlier in the day and I realize I have entirely sweated through my t-shirt as I walk north on 8th Avenue to catch my train. Muggier and hotter still down in the station. But I could not be happier. Tonight was great. I’m very, very lucky to be doing what I’m doing, to have done what I’ve done, and to have two more weeks of process left with Andy et al before we open this and then it becomes whatever the run becomes. 

Cats : Day Forty-six of Rehearsal

Friday, July 15th, 2016



Sophomore Effort

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 

6:30pm FULL CAST into Costumes, Hair & Make-Up

7:30pm Half-Hour 

8:00pm Preview #2

EXCERPT : Notes On Paper, Work On Stage

The session starts off with Andy asking if our friends and families liked it and commenting on the devoted Cats fans who were with us last night. He also reported that McCavity scared his children. 


Sitting out in the auditorium while Andy and the company rework three big chunks of the ball. He’s tightening the narrative in terms of the tribe dealing with Griz throughout the ball. 

He’s taking out entire sections and replacing them with new steps and configurations. Of course. He’s trying to make the story clearer. 

On these large change days I fear for Chrissie’s heart. Or soul. Or wherever it is she keeps this show. Her reserve of goodwill must be nearing the bottom by now. And yet, we’ve two weeks to go. The show is not frozen and we all will have to stay flexible as the various creative forces continue to work on the piece as it plays out in front of audiences. I am sure there are battles large and small being fought out of our sight on a daily basis. I am sure of it.

Natasha Katz Cats Technical Rehearsal / Neil Simon Theatre July 15. 2016  photo credit : Christopher Gurr

Natasha Katz
Cats Technical Rehearsal / Neil Simon Theatre
July 15. 2016

photo credit : Christopher Gurr

EXCERPT : The Eye Of The Storm

I’m sitting house right, about even with Natasha Katz’s station, which is mid-house, just under the mezzanine overhang. I love eavesdropping on the different departments doing their thing. Their various jargon. The ideas being talked out. It’s the first time I’ve heard her talk at all. She speaks very quietly to her team through her headset.

Andy B. has worn a path between the steps to the stage and the aisle where Natasha sits.  He darts to the stage, he returns to talk. He darts, he returns. He darts, he returns. He is deep into the narrative abilities of Natasha and her magic lights. I think he’s having a good time. I hope he is.

Something I really miss about directing is being part of those conversations out here in the darkened house. It’s plotting magic. It’s very cool.

The lights for Cats are… unlike any other plot I’ve worked under. There is diegetic lighting, presentational theatrical lighting, poetic theatrical lighting, practicals… It’s a colorful, imaginative, glorious hodgepodge. And it all works. The fiberoptic stars in the back drop and the theatre ceiling (draped in black for our production), the strands of color-changing cat-scale Christmas lights that trim the set and soar out into the auditorium, the caged work lights hanging from the mezzanine overhang, the oversized bike lamp that Skimble uses both for his train and to search for McCavity, and, of course, the light-up cat eyes that peer out from the set during the top of show blackout. Quite the mix.

Cats Technical Rehearsal / Neil Simon Theatre July 2016  photo credit : Christopher Gurr

Cats Technical Rehearsal / Neil Simon Theatre
July 2016

photo credit : Christopher Gurr

EXCERPT : Burning The Candle At Both Ends

The evening performance…

Well, here’s a thing I discovered I can’t do: Cats on four hours of sleep. 


Not a good idea. 

It’s not that physical a track, but the special sauce of both (all three?) of my larger characters is the amount of energy and focus behind them. And that needs more than four hours. 

Good. To. Know.

Also, bleeding obvious. 

But, I’ve been dating someone and that takes time and energy, too.

Cats : Day Forty-seven of Rehearsal

Saturday, July 16th, 2016



The Show So Nice We Did It Twice

From: Stage Management
Subject: Hour Call Reminder
Date: July 16, 2016 at 9:43 AM
To: Cast

Hello All -

This is a reminder that the FULL CAST is called for the Hour call at both performances today:

Matinee: 1:00pm

Evening: 7:00pm

Thank you and see you then!


Ira Mont

Production Stage Manager, CATS

EXCERPT : Two Show Day

7.5 hours of sleep. That’s better. Going to try to get some cooking done this morning before heading in. Spending way too much on midtown meals. Time to ease back from “It’s Tech! I can spoil myself!” to “It’s work and it’s a way for money to come in not out.

This is our twelfth day of work in a row. We’ve an eight-day run and a ten-day run coming up in the summer, but no more twelve days in a row that I see coming down the pike. The holidays will bring a ten-show week, and that will be its own challenge. Mostly for the dancing company. Who is everyone but me, Q and whoever the Griz will be then. 

Leona is only with us through or until October. That’s the word in the wings these days. Which begs the question, come October...

Who will it be?

EXCERPT : Not A Government Job

During the first show today show going out in the audience during Misto and there were—gasp—empty seats on the side in the orchestra. That’s right. Day two of paid performances and already I’m reading the signs of this not being a long run. 

Doubt. It’s a great way of beating life to the punch.

EXCERPT : A Change Of Heart

I see Trevor hanging about in the wings after I’m out of costume and makeup. I ask him about his sitting upstairs in the mezzanine during the matinee.

He despairs, “Oh, God! You can just see—“ 

“Nothing but tops of our heads?” I interrupt, trying to beat the note.

“—No! Wires. Fake McCavity coming on. Deuteronomy sneaking on…” 

Me, “Oh… Right.” 

He brightens, “All fixable! All fixable!”

I do love him. I ask,

“How was Toodle Pip, did that work?”

“Certainly! It’s about being actually frightened—“

“Not funny, he’s scared—“


“And the two beats? That’s OK?”

“Oh, yes. It landed a treat.”

“Oh, good. I couldn’t tell.”

“And… just a little murmur… You’ve given us several variations of this—

Oh, dear. What now?

“—And the last few times ‘by heart’ has been a little stern—“

“Yeah, I know… to hard, right?”

“There was a version where it was ‘by heart… I really was a genuine actor’  just that little lift—“

“Yeah. Yeah, I hear that. I remember doing that.”


“I’ll put it right back tonight.”

“Lovely. And… Next week—I know your not enthusiastic—“

Oh, god, the mask is back in play.

“—But we’ll try incorp—“

And I say, jokingly (but not),

“Is my acting just not enough for you, Trevor?!?”

What cheek.

“No no no no nooooooo!!! Your acting —

I’m not going to write it down, but he says some very, very nice things. Of course, he would in this situation. 

I regroup. I smile and shake my head and say, 

“You know, if I were out there in the dark, I’d probably be asking for the same thing—”

He takes me by the shoulders.

“—We’ll just try it and if it doesn’t work—“

“Certainly—”, I say.

Here’s the thing: we clearly like each other. I know I like him immensely and I think he is, at the least, fond of me. And I have tons of respect for him and he has done nothing but treat me with kindness and respect. So now we’re dancing around each other a bit. 

Not the worse thing in the world. 

Excerpt : Widening The Path

The Night Show. Just off from my Act II “medley.”

Muuuuuuuch better.

Decided to have the fun that it is. Actually decided to let Gus have the fun that it is. And it went over much better than this afternoon.

There is no control in this experiment as there’s always a different audience, but I feel certain that if I'm not (or Gus isn't) really having fun, they won’t either. 

Tonight’s new metaphor: this afternoon I was a human clinging to the trapeze of live performance with both hands in a death grip. Tonight it was the same trapeze but I was an orangutang perfectly happy with one loose hand at a time on the bar and swinging for Broadway Jesus.

Muuuuuuuuuuuch better. 

Sometimes one must be an orangutang to be a human playing a cat.

Sounds about right.

More, later.

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