Originally posted at the Chicago Metroblog.
A couple of weeks ago my friend Ben stopped by with a maniacal gleam in his eyes.
"Performing Cats!" he proclaimed.
"Performing Cats! At a gallery over in Humboldt Park every couple of weeks. Are you in?"
It was kind of a madhouse. It's a fairly small gallery to begin with, and a good chunk of the floor space was taken up by the cats' props and climbing apparatus. At one point near the beginning of the evening, the band had decided to play a song before the cats performed, Samantha was still warming up the cats, a Spanish-language television show was trying to tape the intro to a piece about the cats, and no one had turned off the background music. I turned to Ben and said, "this could be an incredible train wreck."
But, it wasn't. The band finished, the film crew finished, the background music got shut off, and Samantha launched in to an obviously well-practiced routine with her seven (or so -- I lost track of all their names) cats. The cats knew a variety of tricks and performed them... most of the time. "A trained cat act is a great way to learn humility," Samantha said during the show. She capped off the show by bringing out a serval kitten, which, she admitted, was largely for the "awww" factor. Mission accomplished. And then we faded for the exit as the human performers began taking the stage.
The reactions of our little group varied. I thought the show was definitely worth seeing once. Erica was entranced. "Smart kitties, doing tricks! I felt like I was seven years old," she said.