Review by Joey Madia
There is no greater expression of joy than singing. Whether it is in tune, out of tune, lip-synching, a parody, or something created on Songify, nothing brings in the YouTube or TikTok numbers like a committed singer and their commitment to a song.
Pop and rock singers are the superstars of American culture. The most successful make millions for a show and live like kings and queens. Although less popular and wealthy, Broadway stars are the heroes of countless high school and college musical theatre students, most of whom will never have the opportunity to stand in the spotlight on the Great White Way and have that moment of song in the sun.
Keeping this in mind, Ella English’s mission with Katy on Broadway, and I am sure with the larger Kitty in the City series, is, in a word, wonderful: “Enjoy the sound of your children singing, no matter what it sounds like.” I know from personal experience with one of my children how important this is. I come from a family of excellent singers and musical performers, including one of my children. I made what I thought was an off-handed and harmless comment to one of my other children while they were singing when they were ten. Fifteen years later, they found the opportunity to talk about it because it hurt them deeply.
My wife, who has a beautiful voice, will not sing at all because of comments made when she was young.
Broadening this out, Don Miguel Ruiz, in his bestselling and life changing The Four Agreements, uses the example of telling a child they cannot sing as a sure way to crush their very soul and condition them to never, ever express themselves freely again.
If you know a child who needs to hear that it’s okay to express yourself, no matter what others think—and what child (or adult) doesn’t?—then Katy on Broadway is essential reading.
Katy, a frisky kitty who lives close to NYC, loves to sing, but Gerry the Squirrel and others around them ask her not to. Undaunted—like a kid in their room singing into a hairbrush imagining they are singing for thousands—Katy sings her lungs out, suffering the slings and arrows of the uninspired and unkind.
Even her otherwise lovely owner, Lilian, asks her not to sing.
Katy, however, is a kitty with a dream. Catching birds… not interesting. Other cat behaviors… forget about it.
Then, one day (that trio of powerful words), in an attempt to get away from the slings and arrows… well, cans and sticks… that Gerry is hurling at her, Katy winds up taking a wild adventure into New York City itself!
It isn’t long before she meets a city cat named Weasel. Think Rizzo the Rat from The Muppets. He’s the requisite tour guide needed in Stranger in a Strange Land tales like Katy on Broadway. Not only is Weasel streetwise—he is a tremendous judge of talent. He sees in Katy what those in suburbia can’t.
How Katy gets on stage on Broadway and what happens when she does… Well… what kind of a reviewer would I be if I gave those details away? I will say this, however: Be prepared for a number worthy of Baz Luhrmann, dreams that come beautifully true, and unexpected help from a couple of Katy’s biggest fans. There are even two sets of song lyrics to which you can make up some melodies!
So what are you waiting for, my song-loving friends? Somewhere, right now… maybe in the very next room… is someone who loves to sing who needs to hear this story.
And, if an inspiring tale of taking chances and celebrating the Arts is not enough incentive, there are two pages of fun facts about Broadway and New York.
As a lifelong performer and teacher of the Arts, I applaud the tune that Ella English (what a great name) is singing: “Enjoy the sound of your children singing, no matter what it sounds like.”
Because what it truly sounds like is love.
TITLE: Katy on Broadway (Kitty in the City)
AUTHOR: Ella English
PUBLISHER: Crimson Dragon Publishing, 2022