I took three of our granddaughters — Oakley, age 9; Jane, age 8, and Lena; age 6 — to see the Broadway musical “Cats” a couple of weeks back. I was motivated to do so because of a pleasant experience I enjoyed many years ago when I introduced my son, J. Brim, to Broadway.
As I recall, J. Brim was 8 or 9 years old when we saw “Cats” at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center. On the evening of the performance he seemed to have ants in his pants. He wiggled and squirmed in his seat throughout the evening.
If he asked me, “Is it about over?” once, he asked a dozen times. As the night played out, I considered his first exposure to Broadway to be a disaster. I remember thinking, “I won’t try this again.”
But as the years went by (and more than 30 have gone by) J. Brim has mentioned “the night we saw ‘Cats’ ” time and time again.
“Remember when we went to see ‘Cats’ ?” he would ask. “It was great wasn’t it?”
I came to realize there is much more going on in a little boy’s mind when he seems bored and is squirming in his seat.
So, I summoned my courage and decided to introduce our three oldest granddaughters to Broadway.
They seemed genuinely excited when I told them of the evening I had planned. When the big night came, we loaded up and headed to Nashville. As we arrived at TPAC, I’m sure we were an odd-looking troupe, these three, cute little girls, all dressed up, and their old “Daddy Jack.”
Of, course as we entered the performance center, they all had to go to the bathroom.
They were giddy with excitement as show time approached.
“How much longer till it starts?” was ringing in my ears by the time the first note sounded. For the first two or three numbers those girls were sitting on the edge of their seats. But, as intermission approached, and after one especially dramatic scene, I heard someone (who shall remain nameless) whimper, “I want my mama!”
I began to squirm in my seat.
But, alas, intermission brought new life to my girls. The prospects of going “outside” and purchasing a Coke meant renewed enthusiasm. As we stood in line waiting to make a purchase, the announcement came to return to our seats as the show was about to resume. We returned to our seats “Cokeless.” But that didn’t dampen their enthusiasm in the least. The girls had found their “second wind.”
We breezed through the second act without incident although I did have to caution them from time to time for being a bit loud in their conversations.
After the finale, the girls joined the standing ovation with great enthusiasm. As we departed, they insisted on having their photograph taken in front of the “Cats” sign. All were disappointed because none of the “cats” came out into the lobby for photo ops.
But all in all, it was a good night. I actually had trouble keeping up with the girls as they danced and skipped on our way back to the car.
11:30 p.m. found us stopping at McDonald’s for a late evening snack. They talked non-stop and laughed all the way home.
Sometime after midnight they were all in their sleeping bags at the foot of our bed. I finally had to threaten them within an inch of their lives to stop the giggling and get quiet.
It was a magical night. I drifted off to sleep with a smile on my face.
Jack McCall is a motivational humorist, southern storyteller and author. A native Middle Tennessean, he is recognized on the national stage as a “Certified Speaking Professional.” Copyright 2019 by Jack McCall.