Join eleven-year-old Catherine and her three cats on a musical journey and see, in this dog-eat-dog world, how there may be advantages in being more like a cat.
Our tale concerns the adventures of Catherine and her three feline companions in a fantasy land populated by the Giant Cookie, Devious Troll, Nasty Elf, Fourth Cat (at the Mouse-a-Rama) and The Witch with a Plan to Save the World.
As the play opens we find Catherine sobbing in her bedroom, an all-too-common occurrence that particularly annoys the cats, as it disturbs their sleep.
This leads Ms. T., a caring cat, and Mountain, whose sleek black fur bespeaks a devil-may-care attitude, to discourse on the human condition in the song, CATS ARE AND PEOPLE ARE NOT.
Mountain believes the only hope for Catherine is for The Witch to cast a spell on her. After consulting Tottles, the philosopher cat who speaks mainly in rhyme, Ms. T. tentatively agrees, but worries about the dangers of spells since Catherine, like all humans, gets only one life, not nine.
The cats bestow on Catherine the power to understand their language -- "It will be fun to talk to our pet!" says Ms. T. They lead Catherine into a fantasy world, where Ms. T. lectures her on improving her eating habits in TAKE THE TIME TO SAVOR, THAT FEATHER FUR AND FISHY FLAVOR.
When Catherine is unexpectedly assaulted by the Giant Cookie, the group escapes to the top of a bridge where Mountain, in SCAREDY-CAT, maintains that discretion is the better part of valor.
Mountain urges Catherine to visit The Witch, whom Mountain describes as "an old pussy-cat at heart." When Ms. T. disputes that characterization, Catherine turns to Tottles, who weighs in with CURIOSITY, and the issue is decided in favor of the trip.
Before they can leave, however, the Troll, who controls the bridge, appears and interests Catherine in armfuls of expensive gizmos which he trots out from under the bridge. Disdainful of the Troll and his trinkets, Tottles sneaks under the bridge where he sleeps on and breaks one of the Troll's prize possessions, leading to the song, A CAT'S FAVORITE LETTERS ARE ZZZZS.
When the Troll leaves to replace the broken item, Mountain encourages Catherine to secretly explore the Troll's domain (WALK LIKE A CAT). Mountain and Tottles then depart, leaving Ms. T. to watch over Catherine.
The Troll quickly returns and places Catherine under a spell. Horrified, Ms. T. offers the lament, THROUGH THE CLOSING DOOR.
Ms. T. breaks the magic spell with a well placed bite to Catherine's leg. The two flee and come upon Mountain and Tottles who are relaxing by batting a mouse back and forth singing THE MIND OF A CAT.
The Elf appears and Catherine, in an unthinking moment, accepts his challenge to a series of contests. The final contest -- a song and dance duel -- pits the Elf's IN ELF-LAND YOU LOSE against Catherine's IF I WERE A CAT. In between Tottles chimes in with IN ELF-LAND YOU WIN. Catherine triumphs over the Elf and as her prize chooses The Ring of Obscurity -- a magic ring which leaves the wearer visible but otherwise generally ignored.
After the cats slip away Catherine laments that she's been abandoned in a strange land, then curls up cat-like and goes to sleep.
Catherine wakes to the refrain A CAT IS A HUNTER resounding from the Mouse-a-Rama, where the three cats are carousing with their host, Fourth Cat. Catherine joins them and takes part in a series of games that "challenge the mind, body and inner soul."
In the first contest they do battle with the Mouse King and Queen, and Tottles shows that to live one's values, one may also need to be good with a sword. Mountain's victory in the second game leads to the triumphal WE ARE CATS. The last game is played to the strains of THE WORLD WAS CREATED FOR YOU TO EXPLORE. When Catherine does the unthinkable by releasing a mouse she has caught, the Mouse-a-Rama shuts down abruptly.
The group arrives at The Witch's home, where Mountain, one of The Witch's favorites, stays only long enough for a few scratches before slipping away with one of the brooms. The others learn that The Witch wants Catherine to stay on and study with her so that, together, they can solve the world's problems and "usher in a millennium of peace and happiness for everybody."
Ms. T. maintains that Catherine came only for a visit, a contention that so infuriates The Witch that she turns Ms. T. to stone. Tottles also objects and although he too is turned to stone, he's still able to hold forth in philosophical rhyme. The Witch, who hates rhyme, turns Tottles and Ms. T. back into cats and chases them away with a broom advising Catherine, "You can't talk seriously with cats around."
When Catherine shows little interest in The Witch's offer of "home schooling," The Witch issues an ultimatum -- Catherine can make something of herself by studying with The Witch or, alternatively, be turned into a cat.
Seeing no way out, Catherine dons The Ring of Obscurity, whereupon The Witch loses interest in her. Mountain swoops in on a broom, and the two fly into the night sky to the tune BLACK CATS.
Catherine awakens screaming in her own bed, forced to confront the problem that was bothering her when the play began. Having learned from her adventure with the three cats, she is now better equipped to deal with what lies ahead.
The story and lyrics were written by Larry Jakus of Chicago, the music and arrangements were composed by Ken Harness of Ozark, Alabama.
Singers were Chicago area performers Colleen McHugh (as Ms. T.), Linda Fastner Stormont (Mountain), Vince Lonergan (Tottles), Laura Derocher (Catherine), Randy Crain (Nasty Elf), and George Goetschel (Fourth Cat).
Instrumentalists were George Goetschel (keyboards and trumpet), June Matayoshi (oboe), Caroline Curtis (violin), Andrew Snow (cello), and Dave Budrys (bass and percussion).
The musical director was George Goetschel. Dave Budrys was the recording engineer. Artwork by Parody Productions, Limited. The songs were recorded at Early Recording Studio in Evanston, Illinois.