Musical Reviews

By Allison C., Grade 10

Paws and Performance in the Cinematic Musical "Cats"


One of my most favorite musicals is “Cats”, a well-known stage production by Andrew Lloyd

Webber brought over to the big screen in December 2019 by Tom Hooper, Director. “Cats” is
an enchanted world of feline cats who are known as the Jellicle Cats. They roam the London
streets to be one day reborn into a new wonderful life. One of the feline cats is named Victoria
(played by Francesca Hayward) who is abandoned by her owners. Confused and scared,
Victoria wanders the street to a back alley where she meets the other Cats. This is where the
story leads with each Cat having their distinct personality revealed. Victoria meets Mr.
Mistoffelees. He is black and white tuxedo cat with magical powers but does not know how to
use it. Bombalurina, played by Taylor Swift, is a performer cat who is also known as the Red
Queen. She is mysterious, courageous, and very well spirited. Bustopher Jones, played by
James Cordern, is another cheerful and joyful cat who loves fine dining. There were so many
famous actors in this musical film, but it is not the only reason why I enjoyed it. Even without
the famous actors, the songs and visuals helped to put this story in the right place for me. I
have a curious personality, so I like to listen to people’s stories. Every song in “Cats” was telling
a story about someone or something. Of course, the funniest song was Old Gumbie Cat, sung
by Rebel Wilson (played in “Pitch Perfect”), and there were actual people playing dancing
miniature cockroaches. They made me laugh so hard, especially when the Old Gumbie Cat ate
one or two. That was so hilarious. Try not to think of “Cats” as a story about alley cats who want
to go to the afterlife. Enjoy the musical as a storytelling enjoyment because we all have our own
stories to tell that makes us different. I highly recommend you watch this musical.

The city of dreams and the pursuit of happiness, "La La Land" explores the sacrifices of love

La La Land

One reason why I love musical productions is because it makes me happy to hear people sing.
Here is another famous stage production that moved to the big screen that I would like to tell
you about. ‘La La Land’, released in December 2016, stars Emma Stone who plays Mia (I liked
her in “Cruella”) and Ryan Gosling who plays Sebastian (played Ken in “Barbie”). The movie
explores the passion and ambition of two individuals who fall in love with each other, but both
start to realize that love requires sacrifices to their dreams. Mia is a young aspiring actress who
faces the tough life of getting a respectable acting career. Sebastian is a jazz musician who
dreams of having his own jazz / musical late-night club. Both found themselves down an
emotional path and realized that to love each other, they would have to sacrifice being together.
I wanted so much for Mia and Sebastian to stay together, but it was not written in the stars. The
story takes place in Los Angeles from the 1940-1950 era, the city of dreams. I really enjoyed
this musical production for the visual Hollywood scenes. The one musical part that I watched so
many times was “Another Day of Sun” (the first song) because not only are the lyrics catchy
(stuck in my head) but to me it meant being alive and even when things aren’t moving
(metaphorically stuck in traffic), we need to live to fight another day. Do not give up on your
dreams. ‘La La Land’ explores the ups and downs and perhaps some views will relate to some
viewers. The ending of the movie did leave me with mixed feelings, but at least both Mia and
Sebastian did not give up on their dreams. This is one very interesting story and I highly
recommend you watch this movie too.

"In the Heights" a musical journey exploring aspirations and dreams

In the Heights

Let’s begin with Lin-Manuel Miranda, well known playwright and composer of music and lyrics.
He created and played the lead role as Alexander Hamilton in the famous Broadway musical
“Hamilton” back in August 2015. The lyrics were so powerful, showcasing his incredible talents.
However, did you know he also created the original stage musical “In the Heights” back in
2008? That is one reason why I was interested to watch this movie when it was released in
June 2021. “In the Heights” is a hip-hop musical that reflects more contemporary times in a
Hispanic American neighborhood in the Washington Heights of New York City. You can expect
to see a lot of hip-hop and salsa dancing in the streets and every place in between. I enjoyed
the music but more importantly, I got a better understanding of the Dominican community life
and how these life experiences impacted everyone in this community. It is very relatable since
parents do want the best for their child, to achieve what themselves were unable to do. One
thing that I learned from “In the Heights” is that different cultures shape the individual, but it also
impacts your cultural identity, meaning we have a strong connection to our roots. Usnavi's
dream was to open a small supplies and coffee shop near his hometown of the Dominican
Republic because he wanted to stay close to his heritage. There is another character named
Nina Rosario and she came home to Washington Heights after attending one year at Stanford
University. Her dad sold his business for money so Nina could pursue her dreams, but she
struggled with mixed feelings between staying home or continuing with her education. I believe
this struggle is common to many immigrants that deal with financial hardship. Not everyone can
be so lucky as Usnavi. With this thought, here is one more musical that you should add to your
watch list.