I recently started writing up a new musical, Cars, in which a clan of disturbingly horny sedans and wagons compete through song and dance to be lifted via an electromagnetic crane to Junkyardside, but then this morning our fearless leader Mike Ballaban pointed out that that show was already written, but about Cats. That seems weird to me, but what’s even weirder is that the world of cars had collided before with this musical via a U.S. Department of Transportation public service announcement.
And y’all. Y’all. It is a delight to behold.
The 1984 cast of Cats spend this 30-second public service announcement less worried that they probably just cause the car crash with all of their costumed roadside antics and more concerned that there was a child in the car. The ad ends with daddy Old Deuteronomy telling the folks at home “Cats have nine lives. Children, only one. Help them live that life. Buckle them into a car seat. No one wants a child to become a memory.”
Remember Jalopniks: Always use a car seat for children under 4-feet 9-inches tall, avoid driving at night in areas where spandex suits are readily available and always spay or neuter your pets.
I wish you thought of that before jazz tapping near traffic Ol’ Deuty, but okay. I guess a Cats tie-in was probably the best way to capture ‘80s parents’ attention, as the Jellicle gang also did this weirdly smug anti-smoking ad.
I will say, the sight of full-sized actors in cat costumes rubbing their intricately painted faces on each other is charmingly silly, and I’ll take it over a wrong-sized, digitally enhanced Sir Ian McKellen lapping milk from a bowl any day of the week. Maybe there’s something to this live theater stuff after all. The modern equivalent would be, say, cast of Hamilton warning folks about distracted driving, which would also be just as confusing and hilarious.