Excerpts From Another Cat's Diary : Chapter Ten : That’s The Whole Trick

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

This chapter includes adult language. 

Welcome back.

We’ve got weird calendar-to-chapter alignment this time. 

In the last chapter, chapter nine, I ended on Friday, July 1st. I stopped there because it was our last day at New 42. I am starting this chapter—chapter ten—with Saturday, July 2, our first day in the theatre. It’s not our first day of actual tech. That doesn’t start until after our two day 4th of July break—Two whole days! We shan’t see that again—but it clearly marks the end of the first half of the story and the beginning of the second half.

Got it? You good? Great.

Here we go…

Cats : Day Thirty-three of Rehearsal

Saturday, July 2nd, 2016



First Day In The Theater

9:00 am Crew Call

10:00 am - 1:00 pm FULL CAST, Spacing On Stage

1:00 pm Lunch

2:00 pm - 7:00 pm FULL CAST, cont. Spacing On Stage

EXCERPT : A New Day, A New Part Of The Process

My waking thought this morning was:

Andy’s choreography embodies… thought.

One idea—if not the—idea in musical theatre has been that when you can no longer express yourself in spoken word, you sing. When you can no longer express yourself in song, you dance. It’s a linear progression, a continuum with thought at one end and feeling at the other. 

Andy’s work short circuits that sequential paradigm. This makes his dancing supremely actable.

Said the actor. 

Who doesn’t dance.

Well, that was my waking thought. For what it’s worth.

I need coffee. 

We start in the theater today.

EXCERPT : How Do You Get To Broadway?

It’s not the Winter Garden for Cats this go round. We are, instead, north and west around the corner on 52nd Street between Broadway and 8th Avenue at the Neil Simon Theatre. 

Two seasons ago I made my Broadway debut here in All The Way, the political drama about President Lyndon Johnson that won the 2014 Tony for best play. Our star, Bryan Cranston, also won a Tony for his portrayal of L.B.J. It was a large cast for a play, it was packed with really great character men, and it was a damn fine way to make my first Main Stem appearance.

This morning I drop right back into my old commute pattern: 

Front car of the A at 181, five stops, off at Columbus Circle/59th Street, through what is now—but was not then—the Turnstiles shopping arcade that runs beneath 8th Avenue, up to street level at 57th, walk down Eighth stopping at either the Starbucks on the left or the Starbucks on the right if I haven’t already stopped at the Starbucks in the arcade. Hang a left at the Cosmic Diner and there, just beyond the Russian Samovar on the south side of the street, my midtown home for…

How long?

Well, for five weeks minimum, right? I mean, no matter what, they’ll let us open.



In this line of work you just never shake it.

EXCERPT : Waiting For The Boys Upstairs

Tom, Dawn, and Jeanine are all at the stage door when I get there. They were all here during All The Way. Tom—the day doorman—I saw a couple of weeks ago when we did our earlier theater visit—is such a sweetie. He says,

“Christopher, you remember Dawn and Jeanine?” 

They act like I just walked out of the building last night.

“High, Gurr.”

I ask if Ray is still the night guy.

“No,” says Tom, “there’s a new kid. His name’s Rich.”

“Ok. I think I’m on this side this time”, I say, as I head up the stairs

“Want a ride?” says Dawn from the elevator.

I’m already half a flight up, “Nah. I’m good, thanks.”

The last time I as here my dressing room was the other side of the building, stage right, in the big room just above the star dressing room. This time, I’m up the tower, stage left in one of the smaller rooms. Four flights up. 

All the guys are on this side for this production and all the women—except Griz—are in that one large room stage right. 

Large, but… large enough?

Andy Jones and I are sharing the first dressing room along the third floor hall on the north side of the building, dressing room 4. The best part of being on this side of the building is we have a window. Which is amazing. It looks across 52nd Street and into the windows of the dressing rooms of the August Wilson. Which—depending on what’s playing at the August Wilson—can also be amazing.

BULLET POINTS : Some Spacing Notes At The Top Of Show

  • Gurr, anticipate the pop-up entrance from the  pipe
  • Gurr, in pipe lean over SL to get better sightline for house left/stage right - you’re going to be lit from left
  • Gurr, don’t do “we can do double summersaults, bounce on a tire” instead pull up directly to position on stove corner to clear for Emily’s cartwheel [ hmmmmm… less and less in the dancing. More an more in my comfort zone]
  • Gurr, don’t do the pivot, join in at strut/procession [less and less and more and more]

I think Andy’s discovered hiding someone on the back row is not easy when it’s a rake. Ha. I just may survive this.

Cats : Day Thirty-six of Rehearsal

Tuesday, July 5th, 2016



“Try to see me under light!”

8:00 am, Crew, work call/dry tech

12:00 pm, FULL CAST, rake instruction

1:00 pm, FULL CAST, on stage

5:00 pm, Cast Dinner

7:00 pm, FULL CAST, on stage

12:00 am, End of Day

EXCERPT : Span Of Day

Day One of Tech proper. And our first ten-out-of-twelve (10/12). Which means—for those of you not paying attention to the call sheet above—that we work ten hours out of a twelve-hour span. And, by tech proper, I mean we’re adding in the toys. Sound, lights, props, Foy, then costumes, hair, makeup, then—eventually—the band.

We start today in the lower lobby with Jenny from PhysioArts, our company physical therapy provider. It’s an hour of some basic guidelines on body maintenance as we head onto the stage. 

The raked stage.

The Brits. They do love a rake.

Then it’s into mics, and rehearsal clothes—and tails—for continuing our spacing work picking up towards the end of “Bustopher Jones”.

I screw up the “live/last” lyric AGAIN and hear a ruble from Trevor in the stalls

 “… if you don’t get that right we’ll be attending your funeral…” 

I know. I KNOW! 

When did the doubt of that lyric creep into my mind? I don’t like singing the word “live” and I love singing the word “last” (as pronounced by the Brits, thank you) so I really don’t know what my problem is.

Rumor is that we’ll continue this spacing work through the afternoon and when we’re back from dinner we’ll start at the top again, tech-ing in earnest with lights, sound, etc., but without costumes/hair/makeup. That’s waiting for us tomorrow. 

EXCERPT : Nutritional Information

Broke at five for two hour dinner break - went to Little Beet over on 50th and sat with Emily Pynenburg, our Cassandra. She reminds me that she’s represented by BRS/Gage—as is Andy Jones, as am I—and—bonus—turns out she’s a Canadian. 

Well, no wonder I like her. I’ve a very soft spot for the Canadians. 

We play where-were-you-before-this and after hearing about my unusual path to New York and to now, she ate a bite of her salmon, then smiled and said, 

“You can see that in your work.” 

Which is a lovely thing to hear. 

After dinner it’s back to the theatre armed with a carrot ginger soup from Little Beet, an edamame and roast chicken bowl from Pret A Manger, and an iced coffee and a cookie from Starbucks. 

An actor, like an army, travels on it’s stomach.

Particularly during tech.

EXCERPT : Tom Wants A Hit

Tom the doorman is on the sidewalk outside the stage door when I get back from dinner.

“Whaddy think? You gonna bring us luck again with this one?” 

I smile,

“I think so. I really do.”

“The tunes good?”

Don’t you just love that he asks that? 


I say,

“And the dancing is great.”

He nods,

“We need something to run.”

I nod.

“Yeah, me, too.”

Back onstage for the company, back to wandering the house for me—as Andy takes the first ninety minutes to rework the tap in Gumby. He just keeps at a thing until it’s better or his time runs out. 

Whichever comes first. 

As it should be. 

EXCERPT : Another Owl From Chrissie

On the dinner break Chrissie got her Act II notes from Friday’s rehearsal hall designer run typed out. She emailed them from her spot just off the main director’s table at the center of the house to Ira at his calling desk far house right. Back from dinner, Ira sends them out to all of us as we’re working on stage. They make their magical way to the phones in our pockets or the laptops in our dressing rooms. 

You can almost hear the whooshing of digital messages back and forth, hither and yon, through the auditorium, up the stairs, down the halls, out to the production office, the management office, the outside world. There are so many laptops and smartphones out there in the dark, glowing and talking to each other. I used to think it looked like NASA Ground Control when you gazed out on the house during tech. On this production, for some reason, it looks like a lot of little lone wizards casting spells.   

And, so it is.


Looking back at this email from Chrissie, it’s an amazing collection of notes. Specific. Articulate. Some are restatements of things she’s said many times in many different ways in the studio, some are things she never got a chance to say. If I can get her permission, I’ll include them later. In the book. They’re a model of the form. I will risk Chrissie’s displeasure here (further displeasure here?) by sharing the last sweep, which is a bit of a tour-de-force. 


Chrissie's email ends with this:


  • Tyre lifts and you feel the overwhelming nature of this spiritual moment

  • The last Jellicle Moon has the arms pushing out to the side as you bow and then recover then surge in

  • Tyre moves downstage and you move back with it (2 counts of 8)

  • Back bend (count of 8) recover (count of 8)

  • Both arms shoot up (count of 1) then they melt down (2 3 4 5 6 7)

  • Run in to the tyre (8-and-a)

  • Right arm pushes forward and up to Grizabella (1 2 3 4) and down (5 6 7 8)

  • Sing ’The mystical divinity….’ as she flies

  • ‘Round the cathedral rang Vivat’ is the final right arm send off - this has a flexed hand

  • ‘Life to the EVERLASTING CAT’ the hand waves softly and then floats down.

  • First turn out in Addressing of Cats is on the word ‘So’ as the line is repeated. Focus should be high and proud

  • ‘With CATS’ is pounce to the right - scour the audience and hit centre with that little change of weight on ‘MYSELF’

  • ‘RESENTS’ is hackles up and you stand immediately after ‘FAMILIARITY’ with left foot front

  • ‘Address him in this form’ then left right forward with open arms - well, have you learnt how to address us?

  • After solo lines and moves we have first chorus of ‘A cat’s entitled to expect’ Sideways preening to right and left then pull in

  • On the repeat it’s a crossed preening movement

  • The bow is on CAT 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 turn hands and arms lift 2 3 4 5 6 7




Do you get the feeling we ran out of time before staging the last moments of the show? 

If so, you understand the situation perfectly. 

Do you also get the sense that Chrissie, if pressed, could communicate the staging of Cats to a cast from a distance using only semaphore flags and the occasional emergency flare? 

Again, you would be right. 

I bet there are many days on this production where she thinks that’s exactly what she’s been asked to do.

Cats : Day Thirty-seven of Rehearsal

Wednesday, July 6th, 2016



The Speed Of Light

EXCERPT : In Costume

Another 10/12. Crew in at 8am, Cast in at noon. And we’ll work until midnight. We're in costume and everyone looks amazing. The handprinted unitards. The wigs. The painted shoes, the leg and arm warmers. Everything. And Everyone is checking everyone else out. Blatantly. This is a body-conscious and body-proud group. And with good reason. Also—every once in a while—you hear someone saying out loud to no one in particular, 

“I’m hungry.” 

That could be our show motto. 

The front of the t-shirt: Cats

The back: We’re hungry.

EXCERPT : The Ravages Of Time

Tech, real tech—not what we’ve been doing so far, spacing with lights working on top of us—starts as techs do: slowly. Right out of the gate there are two “tricks” to work on: the trapeze cue that Ahmad does and the “run up a wall” Foy cue that Daniel does. That eats lots of time and makes our start very slow. We have entered the true tech zone. 

It’s as if all the clocks in the building are melting. Salvador would be pleased.

Lying on the floor at the edge of the stage in my “When you notice a cat in profound meditation…” position—for a long, long time since it’s tech—I think, 

I should switch this pose up every night.

Which reminds me of the actor who played Smike in the original production of Nicholas Nickleby and the story—the apocryphal story?—that he’d switch up his body distortion from side to side each night in order to stay as healthy as possible during the run. 

Just then, Trevor walks in front of me. 

I should ask him if that’s true. After all, it was his show. He should know.. 

Nicholas Nickleby , RSC Aldwych, 1980 - Roger Rees as Nicholas, David Threlfall as Smike, Ben Kingsley as Squeers surrounded by Nicholas Gecks, Alan Gill, Mark Tandy & Ian East. Directed by Trevor Nunn  Photo Credit : Chris Davies   

Nicholas Nickleby, RSC Aldwych, 1980 - Roger Rees as Nicholas, David Threlfall as Smike, Ben Kingsley as Squeers surrounded by Nicholas Gecks, Alan Gill, Mark Tandy & Ian East. Directed by Trevor Nunn

Photo Credit : Chris Davies



  • The ball section of Gumby Cat over and over and over
  • Watching Andy continue to pile added tap steps on to Eloise. They make a good pair. 
  • Falling asleep in the above stage right pipe waiting to get into Bustopher. Tech realyl slows down when we hit Tugger. 
  • News from Emily, in wardrobe, that John McMartin has passed away.

Emily was John’s dresser on All The Way. She really loved him. As did I. As did many.

The last time I saw John was right here on this stage. 

And I was acting with him. 

Imagine that.


From: Cats Stage Management

Date: Wed, Jul 6, 2016 at 11:30 PM

Subject: Cats Daily Schedule for July 7, 2016


PLEASE NOTE: It is a 1:00pm downbeat on the Sitzprobe. Please keep that in mind with your travel plans to Carroll Music as well as taking into account the glacially slow and small Carroll Music elevator.

625 West 55th Street
6th Floor, Studio #4
(between 11th and 12th Avenues)




Cats : Day Thirty-eight of Rehearsal

Thursday, July 7th, 2016



I’m Sorry, What?

8:00 am, Crew, work call/dry tech

1:00 pm, FULL CAST, Sitzprobe at Carroll Music

5:00 pm, Cast Dinner

6:30 pm, FULL CAST into Costumes, Makeup, & Hair

7:30 pm, FULL CAST, on stage

12:00 am, End of Day

Cats sitzprobe Carroll Music, NY, NY July 27, 2016  photo credit : Chrstopher Gurr

Cats sitzprobe
Carroll Music, NY, NY
July 27, 2016

photo credit : Chrstopher Gurr

LONGISH EXCERPT : God, I Hope No One Was Looking

Sitzprobe is always such an exciting day. This is where we first sound like a Broadway show. The band and the cast together with many creatives and managers and producers in attendance. Also, this will be a Kristen Blodgette lead session, and that makes us all happy. 

She is… 

Words cannot say what she is. 

I’ve never worked for anyone whose enthusiasm so inspires, so infects a company. She’s been working on Cats for decades and—still—she behaves as if it’s brand new, as if the ink’s still wet, and—most importantly—as if it’s important. Which it is. Terribly, terribly important. 

She is just the best.

I hope she wasn’t looking at a me. 

I’m sure she wasn’t. She was looking at the band because the first thing was the overture and she had them locked in her sights as she gave—no—manifested the downbeat. Her eyes were on the band. And, I’m sure—I hope—everyone else’s eyes were on her.

Because, had they been on me, I might have asked to leave. 

I don’t I know what I thought I was going to hear. Maybe I’d been lulled by Clancy being the room at New 42. Maybe I thought that even if you could reproduce synth patches from 1981, why would you want to? Maybe, since I’d spent some quality time on a DX-7 in my early days, days that included being an music director, I’d thought, who’d want to shackle themselves to that technology?

I thought wrong. Clearly, someone’s gone to a lot of trouble to make our 2016 production sound as much like 1981 as possible. 

I thought all of this,

I panicked,

I doubted our leadership,

I doubted myself,

I doubted the fate of this production and of musical theatre as an art form,

I doubted my ability to assess either this production or musical theatre as an art form,

and I may have lost consciousness for a bit before coming to.

All of this in the space of the first bar. 

Four counts.

I am not always good at hiding my feelings, especially feelings of consternation. And if I had to pick one word to describe those two seconds, it would without a doubt be consternation.

By the second bar, I’d already started to compose my face, and my mind, and the musical vertigo subsided. 

By bar five I was honestly, truly excited to be in Cats.

Which is handy, since I’m in Cats. 

By the closing bars of the overture my eyes were wet… because… I was remembering listening to the original album in my bedroom in Americus, GA, at the age of fifteen and what that meant then. Before I’d become a snob. Before I’d learned too much. Before… Well, just before. 

The keepers of Cats are no fools. They know they have the not-so-secret weapons of sentiment and nostalgia on their side. Memory, too.

Of course it sounds like 1981.

But—oof. Those first two seconds of the afternoon were rough.


From: Cats Stage Management
Date: Thu, Jul 7, 2016 at 5:08 PM
Subject: Make-up tonight

Hi Cast,

Wasn't this afternoon fantastic?

For tonight (Thursday) we would like to jump into the deep end of the pool and have everyone in costume, wigs and MAKE-UP.

Now before some of you faint (and not from the heat) - don't worry! We know some of you want another one-on-one session and we'll make that happen. Tonight is for you to just give it a whirl and start understanding the process. And if it doesn't look perfect or if it's not even finished (because we're not going to wait for anyone) that's okay.

Victoria will be busy with her pre-show but she will be able to answer a question or give advice.

If you have any questions let me know but otherwise I'll see you all at 6:30pm for "Extended ½ Hour".



Cats : Day Thirty-nine of Rehearsal

Friday, July 8th, 2016




8:00 am, Crew, work call/dry tech

12:00 pm, Lower Lobby, FULL CAST (sans Adams, Darrington, Ford, Gurr, Hendy, Lewis, Morgan, Ort, Ubeda)  

12:30 pm begin rotating cast into Costumes & Hair

12:30 pm, On Stage, Staging, Lewis

1:00 pm, ADD Adams, Darrington, Ford, Gurr, Hendy, Lewis, Morgan, Ort, Ubeda, CAST on stage continue from “Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer” 

5:00 pm, Cast Dinner

6:30 pm, FULL CAST into Costumes, Makeup, & Hair

7:15 pm, FULL CAST, on stage

11:30 pm, CAST out of Costumes, Makeup, & Hair

12:00 am, End of Day


From: Cats Stage Management
Date: Fri, Jul 8, 2016 at 12:48 PM
Subject: Make-up Notes!

---------- Forwarded message ----------

From: Victoria Tinsman
Date: Thu, Jul 7, 2016 at 11:59 PM

Hey Guys!

Great job tonight at your first go with the make up!

Here are the first round of little notes and tweaks we are making after seeing you on stage with the lighting.

Things will probably keep changing, so don’t get discouraged — It’s all going to be a process due to the colors of the lights.

If you didn’t get a note, do what you did today and I’ll adjust anything (if needed) tomorrow :)


She goes on to give the most wonderful individualized makeup notes and—though I’m not including them in these excerpts—with her permission I will put them in the book, because they’re just so damn good.


She signs off,

Thanks guys!!

Again, great great great job!


Cats : Day Forty of Rehearsal

Saturday, July 9th, 2016



Is It Safe?

8:00 am, Crew, work call/dry tech

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

12:00 pm, FULL CAST into Costumes, Makeup, & Hair

1:00pm Call for: Adams, Albano, Bergmann, Camp, Granell, Hendy, Milgrim, Mitchell, Morgan, Ort

1:00 pm, Cast On Stage, Continue from Top of Act Two

5:00 pm, Cast Dinner

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

7:00 pm, FULL CAST, on stage, continue tech

11:30 pm, CAST out of Costumes & Hair

12:00 am, End of Day

EXCERPT : I'm In A Mood

Today started not at all well. Full costumes, hair and makeup, and starting at the top of II, but no Andy B. in sight. 

Trevor’s on the god mic. 


That—barely—gets us through “Moments of Happiness” and “Gus” and then we take an early ten minute break.


Is this going to continue through “Pekes and Pollicles”?

As he’s calling the break, Ira says, 

“When we come back we’ll be at the end of Misto.”

Me, from the stage, 


Ira, with not one degree of editorial slant in his voice, 

“Yes, Andy’s not with us right now, so we’re going to hop about a bit and work on the ending until he’s back with us.”


Back from the break and then a weirdly unfocused tech rehearsal from end of Misto through the tire and wire work with Griz.

Towards the end of it Andy shows up and adds some steps to the ‘round the tire moment. 

We mercifully hit the dinner break.

I am NOT happy with folks today. And I’m feeling, really for the fist time on this one, not taken care of.

I hate that. I really hate that.

Dinner restores me a bit. And coffee. And settling in a bit more into our dressing room with a delivery from The Container Store. 

Retail therapy. It’s for real, y’all. 

We start the evening session with Pekes. All is going OK—though the tempi feel slow—and then I just get cross with Trevor. 

He wants something out of the Gus as Rumpus that I just don’t want to do.

Starting with the Rumpus entrance from the oven. I’m playing the music. He wants—depending on the day, it seem—either old actor-cat taking his best shot at it, or Firefrorefiddle or Growltiger or the original Rumpus Cat from 1981, for fuck’s sake. 

When he embodies the note as he gives it he is being stalky. Fair enough, that’s what the text offers but the musical entrance is saying something entirely different. 

It is not the first time on this that I’ve been frustrated by the music saying one thing and the poetry saying another. It is also not the first time that I’ve felt like Trevor is directing the memory of the show versus what’s on the page this go round. Whatever I may wish that was. 

I’m just pissy—and then I just go quiet. 

Even though I’ve a really fun number.

And a really great new costume.

And a truly great ally in Lisa Zinni, our US Associate Costume Designer, or—as I like to think of her now—the actor whisperer…


Q is sick. 

For the final segment of the night Nathan, on of the Deut covers, is on the tire and doing the hollering. 

And shaking. 

So much that the cast wonders if it’s the tire or… 

No, it’s Nathan. 

Just slammed up on the tire for the first time (which is really high up there) and shaking like a leaf but sounding glorious

Truly. It’s a great voice.

He gets a well-deserved and enthusiastic hand from the company when he finishes “The Addressing of Cats.” 

Shonica immediately volunteers that she shakes every time she has to go up over the oven and Tyler is quick to add that he hates it every time he has to climb out into the mezzanine level of the set… 

It’s a good group of people, these cats. 

Taking care of our own. 

Taking care of our tribe.


At our worst—which I was close to with Trevor earlier—we are truly horrible. 

At our best—which our tribe was just now—there are non better.

Cats : Day Forty-one of Rehearsal

Sunday, July 10th, 2016



What We Are Not Doing


My eyes open and my first thought is not a good one: 

Well congratulations, now no one is getting what they want on my Rumpus entrance.

I held that grudge in my sleep, I guess. 

I’m grumpy.

I need coffee.

8:00 am, Crew, work call/dry tech

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

12:00 pm, FULL CAST (sans Lewis) into Costumes, Makeup, & Hair

1:00pm Call for: Adams, Albano, Bergmann, Camp, Granell, Hendy, Milgrim, Mitchell, Morgan, Ort

1:00 pm, Cast On Stage, Continue from end of “Skimbleshanks”

5:00 pm, Cast Dinner

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

7:00pm Call for: Adams, Albano, Bergmann, Camp, Granell, Hendy, Milgrim, Mitchell, Morgan, Ort

7:00 pm, FULL CAST, on stage, Continue Tech

11:30 pm, CAST out of Costumes & Hair

12:00 am, End of Day

NOTE: Lewis’ afternoon call TBD


EXCERPT : An Excellent Bedside Manner

We’re halfway through our tech push. Q is out for the day, Nathan is in the fur suit as Old D.

We start off with the end of Skimble going into McCavity with Andy B. on the god mic. 

Had an early encounter with Ira in the hall, checking in with me:


“You still having fun?”

Me, knowing why he was asking,

“Yesterday was the first rough day. Adjusting to the… different leadership styles… I wasn’t quite… lubed up for that when I came to work.”

He nods,

“Yes, Natasha and I are strapping ourselves in.”

Which gets a smile from me. As he leaves I call out,

“That said, we’re not digging ditches.”

I hear from the stairs,

“We are not.”

More, later...

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