When I walked into Andrew Lloyd Webber’s studio in London, I thought we were just rehearsing “Macavity,” the number I was set to perform in the movie Cats. Pretty soon he was sitting at the piano, playing a new melody I hadn’t heard before. I had a feeling it might be the rumored original song for Victoria that people had been whispering about. Up until this point, I had spent weeks on set watching the filming. I watched Francesca Hayward make Victoria the balletic kitten come alive, break her heart and then mend it again. I saw the intense choreography and live singing that this film would demand of me and the cast, and had become well versed on the heart, fun, wisdom and insanity of this special show. So when Andrew asked, from behind his piano, if I had any ideas on what Victoria might say if she had a song, I knew what he was asking. He was asking to help him write it.
That moment, and the ones following it, are moments I won’t ever forget: All of a sudden feeling this immediate intuition about what this character would say, feverishly writing lyrics, my brain churning them out quicker than my pen could keep up with. Singing the song live for the first time with Andrew playing piano in a rehearsal room, hands shaking, for Francesca and director Tom Hooper. The looks on their faces told me it was the right song for this character at that exact point in her story. Watching as it was turned into sheet music and being given a matching “Cats Music Department” hoodie by my fellow collaborators working behind the scenes on the music. Sitting in a director’s chair watching Frankie sing it live for the film, knowing that she had learned to sing specifically for this song. Watching Tom well up almost every time he hears the bridge.
The song “Memory” is about missing your glory days, wishing you could go back in time and relive those magical times from your past. “Beautiful Ghosts” is sung from a young voice who is wondering if she will ever have glory days. Longing for the sense of belonging she sees everyone else finding. Reaching for it, desperately afraid of never having beautiful ghosts of days gone by to cling to in her older years. No matter what happens, I can safely say the memories from my experience working on Cats will be ones I carry with me. Beautiful ghosts, if you will.