Friday, April 18, 2008

Now And Forever

Dear Melissa,


I hope your New Year is as joyous as mine...

...I'm finally out of CATS!

I'm [info omitted] doing a new musical [musical name omitted]. I can't even begin to describe how wonderful the whole experience has been, is, seems to be becoming. Life truly exists outside the litter box.

Pretty much every dancer in NYC performed in CATS at one time or another. In my opinion, working as a swing (a "swing" understudies more than one role) in CATS was one of the hardest jobs on Broadway.

Most musicals have very distinct chorus members. As such, in a group number, someone playing the role of a baker might sing baker-type lyrics and dance in a baker-type way, while someone playing a seamstress might have a slightly different set of lyrics and choreography in the very same number -something more seamstress-like. Not so in CATS.

In the Broadway production of CATS, most of the song and dance numbers required precision dancing and singing, with every cat doing identical movements and singing identical lyrics (different harmonies, but the same words and the same timing). That was part of the beauty of CATS. Everyone leapt into the air at the exact same time, with their arms, legs, and heads at the exact same angle, and everyone landed together with equal precision. I never saw one cat land even a split second before the rest.

I once asked a friend "I understand swinging for five parts that have slightly different blocking or lyrics from one another, but when you're understudying five cats that have the exact same lyrics and choreography in most numbers and the only difference is where they're positioned onstage, do you ever forget which one you're playing that night?" And she said "Yup! Sometimes I'll be skipping down stage left, see a black cat already in my spot, and think "which cat am I???" Then I look down at my hands and go 'Crap! I'm ORANGE! -Upstage right!'"

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Vanessa said...

How funny! I would love to preform in a production like CATS, but forgetting my place I might just freeze up on stage so its probably better that I don't!

Melissa said...

Vanessa: It's funny you say that because you remind me of the friend who sent me this card and told me the "Crap! I'm orange!" story :)

Alice said...

ahhh cats. the first show i ever saw in nyc ;-)

Melissa said...

I loved CATs. I used to listen to the soundtrack all the time.