By Wayne Harada
“Cats,” the Andrew Lloyd Webber take on a junkyard of felines, may not be purr-fection for everyone, but offers a meow-mix of pleasures, if only you give it chance.
I’ve seen it more than a dozen times, here and elsewhere, and continue to marvel at its ingenious idiosyncratic treasures.
The show opens a week’s run Tuesday (Dec. 28) and at Blaisdell Concert Hall, so go explore on your own.
Nine reasons why love it:
1 — Its vision is based on T.S. Eliot’s “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats,” reinvented by Lloyd Webber (who loved the poems as a child) for the stage, where virtually it unreels like an opera (all singing, no dialogue) with a pop overcoat.
2 — It’s as much as a dance show as it is a musical with singing characters. Jazz. Ballet. Modern. Hip-hop. Gospel. Rock. You’ll find fragments in a glorious quiltwork of motion and action.
3 — Costumes are spectacular, each one different, each one defining a character. The dark, greys and black, representing an aging Grizabella; the bountiful, grand furriness of the sage Old Deutoronomy; the magical glitz, for Mr. Mistoffelees; the rock ‘n’ roll glamor, for the Mick Jagger-like The Rum Rum Tugger.
4 — It boasts a show within a show; “Growltiger’s Last Stand” is a theatrical caper with pirates, an Italian aria and Siamese cats.
5 — The characters have names that are, well, names you either never forget or never remember, so try these on for sighs: Bombalurina, Demeter, Bustopher, Asparagus (Gus for short), Jennyanydots, Skimbleshanks, Jellylorum, Munkustrap. And don’t forget Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer — could be names for Ben and Jerry ice cream, don’t you think?
6 — The cats are like people; some good, some bad. Some help others, one causes havoc for everyone. They live in hopes of traveling to the Heavyside Layer.
7 — Until it was bypassed by “The Phantom of the Opera,” “Cats” was the longest-running Broadway music (now second) between 1982 and 2000.
8 — It has a signature song, “Memory,” but for the record, the lyrics are by Trevor Nunn, who directed the production, not the poetry of Eliot, whose verses fill all other Lloyd Webber compositions.
9 — It features an oversized (well, by cat standards) tire that rises to the heavens, a la “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” with Old Deuteronomy and Grizabella on a chosen journey; I mean, how many shows have embraced wheels for a grand finale?