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Book Vs Movie Podcast

Mar 11, 2021

Book Vs Movie: “Cats”

The Poems of T.S. Eliot, the Andrew Lloyd Webber Musical & the 2019 Tom Hooper-Directed Movie

“March Musicals Month!” 

We are deep into “Musicals in March and this episode is an offbeat delight on how some of the best musicals can come from such an unusual source. 

Poet T.S. Eliot (1888-1965) wrote poetry about cats to amuse his nieces, nephews, and godchildren with the collection Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats. These poems talked about how to name a cat, why cats love the moonlight, and “Jellicle Cats” and held a particular fascination with Andrew Lloyd Webber who wanted to write music that matched the words of Eliot. 

The musical Cats was considered a big risk as in the early 1980s London was dealing with high unemployment and a lack of funds from the government for artistic projects. Somehow Weber managed to get just enough funds to open in London in 1981 (the investment would return 3.500 times over) and became a sensation. 

In London, the show ran for 21 years (8,949 shows) and the Broadway run was for 18 years and changed the way shows are promoted and marketed. Weber would go on to create the all-time biggest hit on Broadway with the Phantom of the Opera. 

The 2019 film features stars like Judi Dench, Idris Alba, Rebel Wilson, Jennifer Hudson, and Ian McKellan and directed by Tom Hooper (Chicago) in what can be described as an acid flashback meets CGI. (We do get a new Taylor Swift song so--yay?) 

So between the original play (musical) and the 2019 adaptation--which did we prefer? Have a listen and find out! 

In this ep the Margos discuss:

  • The life of T.S. Eliot
  • The incredible path of a book of poems to the London stage
  • The cast: Judi Dench (Old Deuteronomy,) Jennifer Hudson (Grizabella the Glamour Cat,) Rebel Wilson (Jennanydots,) James Cordon (Bustopher Jones,) Taylor Swift (Bombalurina,) Ian McKellen (Gus,) and Idris Alba (Macavity the Mystery Cat.)

Clips used:

  • Cats trailer 
  • Rebel Wilson & James Corden at the Oscars
  • Taylor Swift Macavity the Mystery Cat
  • Rebel Wilson & Jason Derulo “The Rum Tum Tugger”
  • Rebel Wilson “Jennyadots”
  • Outro Music: “The Ad-Dressing of Cats” Judi Dench

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