Thursday, October 19, 2006

Book 92: A Cats Diary

Stephen Hanan played Gus, Growltiger, and Bustopher Jones in the original Broadway production run of Cats. Fresh from the London stage there was only an inkling that the show would be a great success and no true idea that it would be the longest running show in Broadway history. During the time he auditioned and through the rehearsals and opening week Stephen Hanan kept a very detailed diary of his experience as part of the first Broadway cast of Cats. A Cats Diary details Hanan's thoughts and experiences as he auditioned and the rigorous work that went into rehearsal and the production. He details the changes the show underwent as the cast, choreographer, and director tried to find what would work best for all involved and give the best possible show. As a fan of the show (I saw a very well done production at a regional dinner theatre and then the national touring production, the dinner theatre was superior), I found the behind the scenes look at one actor's experience of Cats to be fascinating. Unlike what I would expect from most diaries, Stephen Hanan is very detailed and writes out complete events and complete thoughts and writes well that there is a narrative that forms over the course of the hundred pages of diary entries.

My only real quibble is that footnotes are printed in a cursive font, as if Hanan had handwritten the footnotes into the book to explain people and things that wouldn't be obvious to the casual reader. The footnotes were difficult to read.

Hanan's strength is in the descriptions and that his personality comes through in the text of the book. A Cats Diary is a wonderful resource to those who are seeking to learn more about what goes on to produce a Broadway show and what some of the actors go through.

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