"The Journey to the Heaviside Layer" is the start of the conclusion of Cats, as the plot resolves with Grizabella having been chosen as the cat to start a new life. The company sings this number as they watch Grizabella ascend to the Heaviside Layer.
After Grizabella finishes singing "Memory", the tribe understand and empathise with her. Victoria touches Grizabella's hand, signalling that she is accepted back into the tribe. As all the others greet Grizabella, the music builds and leads to the lyrics "Up Up Up past the Russell Hotel, Up Up Up Up to the Heaviside Layer." Old Deuteronomy takes Grizabella by the hand and, as the other Jellicles follow behind them, leads her onto the tire, which rises up. Grizabella enters the Heaviside Layer, and Old Deuteronomy returns to the company to sing "The Addressing of Cats".
Grizabella ascends in a variety of ways, depending on the set limitations. She either walks up a platform that lowers from the ceiling ("stairway to heaven"), or is carried off in a "flying saucer", or she simply flies up on wires.
At the end they all go up in a balloon, self, Spats, and dogs and cats.
The letter had been given to the Cats creative team by Eliot's widow, Valerie, in 1980. Trevor Nunn wrote the additional text.
In productions that use the "stairway to heaven", the moment when Grizabella pulls away from Old Deuteronomy as she begins her ascension is intentionally staged to be reminiscent of The Creation of Adam, a famous painting by Michelangelo, and was conceived in the original Broadway production by Betty Buckley and Ken Page.
"The Journey to the Heaviside Layer" begins with the trumpet fanfare theme, serving as a transition from the sombre "Memory" to Grizabella's grand and joyous ascension. Here, the fanfare is set in the 4/4 time signature with a tempo of 104 beats per minute, and is composed in the key of E major.
The number is then transposed to the G major key as the repeated vocal refrains ("Up, Up, Up...") begin. As the chorus builds in intensity, the final two refrains are sung with a slight lyric variation and in the key of Bb major. Grizabella is then lifted up to the Heaviside Layer, accompanied by an instrumental section set in the 6/8 time signature that revisits the Jellicle theme, played here in its full eight-phrase form. The number ends with the recurring hymn section first heard in "Jellicle Songs for Jellicle Cats".
- "Journey to the Heaviside Layer" from the 1981 London cast recording
- "Journey to the Heaviside Layer" from the 1983 Broadway cast recording
- The Russell Hotel was the tallest building in London in T S Eliot's time.
- ↑ In Eliot's Own Words: Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats, tseliot.com
- ↑ CATS reunion livestream, Stars In The House on Youtube (June 12, 2020). Betty Buckley @ 49:20: "Like one thing I remember that's really cool that Ken and I did ... We're together on the tire and then I step up onto the cherry picker crane as it goes out to the ceiling, and they built this room at the top of the Winter Garden just for us, for this crane to go through. And so, we worked this thing out where when I get on the - I'm really nervous about getting on - in real life I was also ... no wires or anything to secure you in case you fell and it was a really small thing. So Ken is assisting me as I get up there and so we touch each other's hands like this as we pull away. It was like Michelangelo's - that beautiful Sistine Chapel ... we stole that image, and it's been in all the productions with the machine like that since. And I'm really proud of that contribution we made ..." Ken Page: "They used it as the button on one of the commercials ... but I always felt like that was our major contribution above everything else we did."
- ↑ The Megamusical, Indiana University Press (2006). Pages 147, 151, 161. ISBN 978-0-253-34793-0.
- ↑ The Megamusical, Indiana University Press (2006). Pages 141-144. ISBN 978-0-253-34793-0.
- ↑ Cats: Songs from the Musical, Hal Leonard (May 1, 1982). Page 106. ISBN 978-0881882001.