By Sarah Vandale
Let’s pretend Cats never happened.
The film adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats was supposed to be a must-see movie over the holiday season. With a cast featuring Taylor Swift, Jennifer Hudson, James Corden, Rebel Wilson, Idris Elba, and Jason Derulo, how could it not be successful?
When the first trailer for the movie was released during the summer, people found the “digital fur technology” unsettling and terrifying. Director Tom Hooper (who also directed The King’s Speech and Les Misérables) said the fur would be modified before the release of the movie.
But those modifications wouldn’t be able to save Cats.
Since filming for the movie didn’t finish until March (nine months before the movie was released), the post-production team was in a rush to finish the movie in time for the Oscars nominations season. At the premiere, Hooper told The Guardian he spent 36 hours straight putting the finishing touches on the movie, and only finished it at 8:00 a.m. the previous morning.
Hooper’s race to finish the movie is extremely similar to any college student’s story of how they pulled an all-nighter to finish an assignment due at 9:00 a.m., except Tom Hooper was rushing to finish a movie with a $95 million budget – and it would have received a failing grade.
Cats only made $6.5 million during the opening weekend and received a 20% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. To make it worse, two days after the release, it was announced that a new version of the movie was going to be released to fix editing mistakes, such as one of the cats having a human hand (wedding ring and all).
If you saw Cats, you may have sworn off musicals forever. Or maybe you haven’t seen Cats, but have decided you’re never going to watch a musical because you don’t want to put yourself through the misery you’ve heard others have experienced.
On behalf of musical theatre lovers everywhere, I’m here to tell you that most musicals aren’t like Cats. Here are some musical productions and movie musicals to try out:
Frozen Jr. presented by Winnipeg Studio Theatre’s StudioWorks
May 21-23, 2020 at the Tom Hendry Warehouse Theatre
See the iconic Disney movie performed by a junior cast. You can sing along to “Let It Go”, and enjoy some new songs written exclusively for the musical. For tickets and more information, you can check out the Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/989269031422586/?active_tab=about
Matilda the Musical presented by Junior Musical Theatre Company
June 6 and 7, 2020 at the Asper Centre for Theatre and Film
Matilda the Musical is based on the 1996 movie, but since the music was written by Tim Minchin, it has some dark humour mixed into the story. If you’re a fan of the original, I recommend the musical. Visit the Facebook event for more information: https://www.facebook.com/events/209164640251292/
Shrek the Musical
Recordings of live productions of musicals like Shrek the Musical are like watching the show from a seat on the stage. Shrek the Musical was nominated for eight Tony Awards and had a cast of Broadway veterans like Sutton Foster, Brian d’Arcy James, and Christopher Sieber. The musical has the iconic movie’s plot, along with extravagant sets, catchy songs, and fun choreography. You can find Shrek the Musical on Netflix.
Newsies tells the story of a group of newspaper sellers at the beginning of the 20th century who stand up against the publishing company that’s trying to raise the price of the newspapers.
If you’re not sure whether you like musicals or not, Newsies is for you. It’s funny, inspiring, and the choreography and songs are exciting. You can watch the movie musical and the live production recording of Newsies on Disney+.
Into the Woods
If you want to see that it’s possible for a star-studded movie adaptation of a musical to succeed, look no further than Into the Woods. The cast features Meryl Streep, Anna Kendrick, Emily Blunt, James Corden, Johnny Depp, and Chris Pine. It’s based on the 1987 Broadway musical about a baker and his wife who are cursed by a witch, and to be able to have a child, they need to get the four objects the witch demands. No creepy CGI cats included. You can watch Into the Woods on Netflix and Disney+.
West Side Story
The movie adaptation of Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story is set to be released in December 2020, and the cast includes Rachel Zegler, Ansel Elgort, and Maddie Ziegler.
The moment musical theatre fans have been waiting for was recently announced this month: the recording of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton with the original Broadway cast is going to be released in October 2021. I’ll be counting down the days.