Now that I had an Alamo Season pass, there was something I needed to use for it as soon as I possibly could: a Rowdy Cats screening. Yes, that Cats from last year. The musical that gave people nightmares. While it quickly pranced out of most theaters, it’s lived on at Alamo in these special nightly screenings that show no sign of stopping. Rocky Horror midnight screenings were a big part of my college experience, and The Room midnight shows are the single most fun screenings I’ve ever been to ever. This looked to be following in its footsteps.
I get off the escalator to the auditorium level and I hear people taking photos in the lovely Drafthouse hallway. They’re all wearing cat ears and drawn on whiskers. I’m in heaven. I get to my seat and find a menu of their special drinks for the screening: Hiss, Purr, and Meow. All three milk based (with vegan substitutions available) and served in a cat bowl. The preshow is all these bonkers cat videos, and I don’t know if I’m more confused about how/why they were made or how they were found.
After a few trailers, our host came out and greeted us. She led a quick contest to award the best “cat call” and gave out weird cat prizes. She then laid out the rules for the screening (basically make noise, but don’t be a dick) and some sample responses before suggestion a drinking game. Drink every time a cat is introduced (and there’s like 70), every time you realize a cat has boobs, and every time a cat disappears. No survivors were expected. She took her seat and the usual “Quiet Zone” announcement was replaced with a “Rowdy Zone” one, and it got me more excited than anythign else we’d seen (sue me, I’m a Drafthouse groupie). And thus it started.
And not much was happening in the crowd. A bit more noise and reactions than usual, but all of it just that: reactions. No call backs or audience participation like I was hoping for. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it was boring, but it was certainly underwhelming. At this point, the heachache I’d been fighting for two days was coming back in full force and my limbs started to ache too (I’d done a pretty hardcore yoga practice just before). I was gonna hafta sit here for another two hours feeling not great. After we met Rebel Wilson and Jason Derulo, my eyes started to get a little heavy and I didn’t fight it. I was hoping I’d wake up in time to sing along with Rumpleteaser, but only did for a brief moment before succumbing to sleep again.
About halfway thru, I woke back up. The crowd was starting to get a little more active, and one pattern started to emerge. Any shot or mention of Judi Dench caused people to shout “Old Deut!” It started to feel like maybe the crowd was getting a little rowdier, and it made sense. The alcoholic cat bowls must have been kicking in. We got to Ian McKellan’s song and the cheers stepped up.
Then came Skimbleshanks, the Railway cat. The crowd lost their mind. Why was Skimbleshanks so special? I do not know for the life of me, but everyone started singing and screaming and cheering and meowing for him. This was what I wanted for the whole film. It died back down for a bit until we got to Mr Mistoffelees, the magic cat. We were given bubbles to blow during his number to fill the room with magic, and his song was repetitive enough that we all soon learned it and sang along. Even more of what I really really wanted from this night. From there it devolved back to incoherent rowdiness and some weak attempts to sing along with Memory.
I left there a little disappointed. It was still fun, and as someone who didn’t actually hate the movie on its own, this was a great environment to rewatch it in. I should have realized the potential problem when the host asked who had been to multiple Rowdy screenings and no one had done more than 2. There still isn’t any set responses like you’d get with the more established films. I think if they had leaned into the singalong more (lyrics on screen?) and if some Jellicles can invest the time to make repeat visits, it could be something special. For now, it ain’t got nothing on The Room (which incidentally, I passed up a chance to see it that same night)
Oh and my Mom saw my FB post mentioned that I was going to this. “Oh how nice, that movie was so beautiful” I tried to explain how the rest of the world viewed this film. “But the ballet is gorgeous! It’s something different” I gave up.