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Nov
23

Cats Creates Memories at NJPAC in Newark, New Jersey

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Midnight, not a sound from the pavement
Has the moon lost her memory
She is smiling alone.
In the lamplight the withered
leaves collect at my feet
And the wind begins to moan.

After weeks of anticipation, listening to the Complete Original Broadway Cast Recording of Cats and learning the songs, the big day had finally arrived. On Saturday afternoon, Rex, London, Maddie and I headed out to see Cats at NJPAC.  London was already bouncing up and down in her seat as we drove into Newark in our Red Jewel…the new GMC Acadia we bought at the end of September. “Mommy, is NJPAC the place where we saw those dancers on Mother’s Day? If it is, I love that place. There’s that giant disco ball that hangs from the ceiling all the way up at the top of the theatre…and it feels like we’re so close to the dancers!” I told the girls that I had read in the Star-Ledger that the Cats actually come out into the audience during the show.    

As the lights went down in the theatre, the girls’ eyes widened as it turned out to be true and bright yellow glowing cats’ eyes appeared in the aisle next to our seats. When I saw Cats on Broadway over 20 years ago, I remember the sets, costumes and the special effects being impressive, even to a jaded college student. Today at NJPAC, I experienced it all over again, this time through my daughters’ eyes, filled with delight. The traveling set was even more amazing as I realized it had been put together for a four-day run at NJPAC, rather than “Now and Forever” on Broadway, and would be dismantled to move on to the next town after Sunday’s performance in Newark, New Jersey. Next week, Cats moves on to St. Louis, Missouri, followed by Costa Mesa, California, then San Antonio, Texas…and so on, giving families like ours around the United States the chance to get a taste of the Broadway classic without leaving their own hometown. I’ve certainly grown spoiled by the easy drive into Newark instead of the challenge of Times Square. 
Memory
All alone in the moonlight
I can smile like the old days
I was beautiful then, I remember
The time I knew what happiness was
Let the memory live again
 
Maddie, as always, was a bit skeptical about a Broadway musical. “Will they talk? Like in Peter Pan?” Even though Maddie loves to dance at Garden State Ballet, she has serious hesitations about shows in which the performers express themselves entirely through body language and movement. Singing would be a step up from dance alone, but Maddie was still seeking dialogue. I told her that the show was based on poems from T.S. Eliot’s “Old Possums Book of Practical Cats” but warned that the poems had been set to music and she could expect the cats to break into song rather than conversation. 
Maddie ended up having a terrific time, although the show was a bit longer than her 6-year-old attention span. Like most of the parents (and grandparents) who had brought their younger children to NJPAC this afternoon, I was glad to expose Maddie to live theatre instead of limiting her concept of entertainment to “watching something” on the Disney Channel.
Daylight
I must wait for the sun rise
I must think for the new life
And I mustn’t give in
When the dawn comes
Tonight will be a memory too
And the new day will begin
Favorites? Roxy’s was the naughty Rum Tum Tugger, thrusting his pelvis like Elvis and bounding into the audience to pluck a young lady out of the crowd to dance in the aisle. Maddie was mesmerized by Grizabella the Glamour Cat and London favored Mr. Mistoffelees and his magic.
Burnt out ends of smoky days
The stale cold smell of morning
A street lamp dies
Another night is over
Another day is dawning
Touch me
It’s so easy to leave me
All alone with my memory
Of my days in the sun
If you touch me
You’ll understand what happiness is
Look, a new day has begun

 

– “Memory”: lyrics written by Trevor Nunn, based on poems by T.S. Eliot

In the end, for me, it is all about the memories….reminiscing about my first Broadway show (A Chorus Line), seeing Cats on Broadway, and creating new memories for London and Maddie. Since Cats left Broadway in September 2000, before London was born, NJPAC offered our family the unique opportunity to share a memory.

Looking ahead to December and the New Year 2009, there will be many more opportunities for my family (and yours) to create new memories at NJPAC…it looks like there’s something for everyone, whatever your age or musical tastes, or holiday of choice:

  • Just up ahead after the Thanksgiving holidays, get into the holiday spirit with the Christmas Music of Mannheim Steamroller by Chip Davis on Friday, December 5th at 8:00pm;
  • Soweto Gospel Choir on Saturday, December 6th at 8:00pm;
  • Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra (Keith Lockhart, conductor) on Sunday, December 7th at 3:00pm;
  • In one of my recent posts about non-traditional holiday and birthday party ideas, I recommended NJPAC as a terrific holiday party venue, and A Rockapella Holiday on Saturday, December 13th at your choice of 2:00pm or 7:00pm would really get the party started;
  • On Thursday, December 18th at 7:00pm, Byron Cage shares a Joyous Gospel Holiday;
  • Dianne Reeves & McCoy Tyner on Friday, December 19th at 8:00pm;
  • Ko-Thi Dance Company celebrates the Spirit of Kwanzaa on Saturday, December 20th at 2:00pm and 5:00pm;
  • Sweet Honey in the Rock comes to NJPAC on Saturday, December 20th at 8:00pm;
  • Discover Handel’s Messiah on Sunday, December 21st at 3:00pm; and
  • An unusual combination of Video Games Live with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra on Saturday, December 27th at 2:00pm and 8:00pm.

In the New Year 2009, NJPAC has two more Broadway musical spectaculars:

  • Fiddler on the Roof runs from Tuesday, March 10th through Sunday, March 15th, with a choice of matinee or evening performances.  Chaim Topol returns to the role he immortalized in the Oscar-winning, big-screen version of Fiddler on the Roof.  This revival of the Tony-winning musical, based on the stories of Sholom Aleichem, is driven by one of the most heartwarming scores in the history of musical theater, including favorites like “If I Were a Rich Man” and “Sunrise, Sunset.”  Tickets are priced from $23 to $79.
  • Jesus Christ Superstar runs from Thursday, April 9th through Easter Sunday, April 12th, with a choice of matinee or evening performances. Rex and I will likely take the girls to see their second Andrew Lloyd Webber musical as a Saturday matinee.  Jesus Christ Superstar, the first masterpiece from the legendary writing team of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber, exploded onto the scene in 1971, changing the worl of musical theatre forever.  With a score of amazing songs — “I Don’t Know How to Love Him,” “Hosanna,” “Everything’s Alright,” “What’s the Buzz,” “Superstar,” and “Heaven on Their Mind,” this original groundbreaking production starring Ted Neeley in the title role is as timeless as ever.  Tickets are priced from $25 to $79, so we don’t have to break the bank to expose London and Maddie to classic musical theatre.
New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) , One Center Street, Newark, NJ.  Phone:  (888) GO-NJPAC.
 
 
 
 

 

2, including: Spice and Naomi already leave comments. Why don' you?
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  • naomi
    6:22 am on November 24th, 2008 1

    love the jellicle cats!!! this post brings back memories of mine when I get the opportunity to perform as one of the jellicle cats two years ago…hehehe…

  • Spice
    11:45 am on November 24th, 2008 2

    I have never seen Cats. Everyone I know has, but I haven’t. Thanks for stopping by my blog and commenting on my Thankful for 5 post. I love doing that at least once a week as a reminder. Hope you have a great week!

 

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