As you may have heard, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s hit broadway musical Cats is set to receive a big Hollywood adaptation, and casting is well underway. With a current December 20, 2019, release date, the roster of huge celebrity names attached is swelling rapidly, tapping A-listers like Jennifer Hudson, Taylor Swift, Idris Elba, Ian McKellen, and so on. While all of those names are good and big, we believe there are two slightly smaller names that equally deserve a place in this sure-to-be-historic film. Those names, you ask? They are … our names (Patti Harrison and Mitra Jouhari).
We know what you’re thinking. Who are you two? I’ve never heard of either of you. I smell :( And, well, we agree! We know we seem like a pair of crap-nobody humanity stains, but hear us out. One or both of us have heroically appeared in shows and movies like Broad City, Search Party, Shrill, High Maintenance, Miracle Workers, The Tonight Show, A Simple Favor, The Big Sick, and Friends From College, in addition to writing for a lot of those shows as well. (If you don’t remember us from these on-camera appearances, it’s because we were so good at disappearing into our roles. Also because we had one line.) We host the live show It’s a Guy Thing with Catherine Cohen and have been performing together in one way or another for years, even before we moved to New York. Plus, we’re really nice. But the story goes much deeper than us bravely listing our credits. Today, we will present our argument that we deserve a role in Cats just as much as any of the big-name superstar singer-rocker-actor types. Here’s why.
Their (our) journey began almost 20 years ago. Mitra (me) grew up watching Cats: The Musical on VHS with her (my) brother and sister in West Chester, Ohio. She (me, okay, so you understand it’s me from here out) had a Cats: The Musical–themed birthday party where her mom painted the faces of local children to make them look like, you guessed it, cats. (NB: The party was Cats: The Musical–themed, not cats the animal. Important distinction.) Fast-forward like 10 or 15 years. Mitra and Patti bonded immediately and formed a strong friendship, which has been described as “deeply toxic” and “hard to watch” by their improv coaches. Like the current of a bad river, their bone-chilling friendship naturally flowed into the fateful and inevitable moment Mitra showed Patti the soundtrack of Cats: The Musical. Their shared obsession predictably culminated in one of the best nights of their shared lives: watching Cats LIVE on Broadway (along with Mitra’s sister, Nadja, and their friend Sudi Green). Later that evening, Mitra and Patti spent approximately $400,000 on incredible merch and have never looked back.
What transpired on that stage was true magic. When you see Cats singing and dancing onstage, there is nothing else. You are mesmerized. You are … changed. Mitra and Patti? They changed. But since they weren’t classically trained singers and dancers, their goal of becoming cats in Cats: The Musical seemed far off … until a couple months ago.
In this moment of Cats: The Musical movie being announced, we have become activated. Not everything is for us. But this is for us. Since the dawn of time, movies have had extras, and we, well, we are born to be extras … in Cats: The Musical. No one will do this with as much enthusiasm and integrity. The love, the gratitude, the appreciation — it’s unparalleled, unmatched, and unbridled. Another reason we feel we deserve this is that we can both sort of tumble and can each do a cartwheel, which we think is a really good selling point. Also, despite our supernatural grace and agility (in addition to famously having self-proclaimed “dancer’s bodies”), we occasionally trip and fall, and when we do, we bounce right back up, which makes us catlike. We know the evidence to support our case is overwhelming, so if you need to sit down and take a break to process, we understand.
We are not asking for much, but we are asking for something, because it’s 2018 and we have to move through this world with purpose, dignity, and intent. Here’s our humble request: We want to be extras in Cats: The Musical: The Movie. We want to be in full-body cat makeup. We don’t care if we have lines. We will pay for our own transportation and hotel if need be. We will learn music and choreography with more enthusiasm than anyone who has ever lived if we are allowed to do so, but if it comes down to it and we just get to exist in the space, we will gladly and enthusiastically do that as well. This would mean everything to us, and we promise not to make a request like this ever again. We are shooting our shot because this is a shot worth taking.
The only stipulation on our end is that we will not do it if the other one is not cast in the same scene and with a role of equal value to the other. We are a package deal, and a package whose contents love and honor each other very much! If you can make this happen, please, please do. We are not being snarky, we genuinely would be so happy to do this. It would be a dream come true. Our love for Cats is as real as our love for each other, and that’s saying something. Please. Help us. Please.
—Pattra Jouharrison (our names combined to save space)