It’s tough to be an actor. You need to constantly audition for roles that you often won’t get, not because you’re completely talentless, but because you have a pimple on your cheek or you weigh five pounds too much or too little. Even getting a part doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed a job. Actors are fired all the time for being too fussy or for forgetting to show up to rehearsal.
The acting world is even tougher if you’re not a human. Although dogs, cats and horses don’t speak English or understand human language, they are still expected to follow the instructions of the director. And to add insult to injury, you aren’t even paid if you’re an animal actor. The human who is in charge of feeding you and bringing you into the miserable life of the theater collects your paychecks.
The harsh realities of life as an animal actor came into sharp focus this past week when “Montie,” a black and white cat hired to be the understudy cat (not even the star!) in the Broadway production of “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” was fired. Montie wasn’t fired because he showed up late to rehearsal or demanded extra cans of Fancy Feast in his dressing room. No, he was fired because he couldn’t act or follow instructions. The producers described Montie as “unruly.”
The role of “Cat” in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” isn’t terribly challenging. Cat has no magical powers. He doesn’t have to leap around the stage or perform a choreographed song-and-dance number. He’s a stray that wanders into Holly Golightly’s life. All he needs to do is lounge on stage and be cat-like. Apparently this was beyond Montie’s abilities as an actor.
Montie may be fired, but he’s not going anywhere. He’ll get to hang around the theater for as long as the show is in production, since his human, Babette Corelli, is the trainer responsible for the cats in the show. Is it any surprise Montie was hired in the first place? There’s no word yet as to whether or not he’ll try to edge his way back into the coveted position of first understudy. Montie was replaced by a cat named Moo, who so far hasn’t been much trouble.
Meanwhile, the real star of the play, a ginger colored cat named Vito, earned himself a mention in the “New York Times” review of the play. It seems Vito upstaged the actress playing Holly, causing the reviewer to note that “maybe it should have played Holly. In any case, I knew I wanted to go wherever that cat was going.” Ouch. Maybe next time, Vito.