I was looking at "Gay Purr-ee" again the other day, a movie that is less than the sum of its parts but will always have a following because the parts are so interesting (Judy Garland fans, Harold Arlen fans, Chuck Jones fans, and UPA fans can all find something of value in it even though it's none of those people's best work). One thing that occurred to me this time is that staging a song for animation can be surprisingly tricky.
The temptation in a cartoon musical, and one that Abe Levitow and Chuck Jones and the rest of the team didn't really avoid here, is just to illustrate the lyrics. So in the "Money Cat" song, there's a physical image to match most of the images in the lyric, including "bottle poppers" and having your "heart set" on something. It's like a live-action musical number where the singer acts out everything he or she sings about, and much of it is redundant: if they're singing about it, we don't need to see every bit of it illustrated.
This is a particular problem with these songs, because Yip Harburg was known for packing his lyrics with images that are at once very specific and hard to translate into physical terms -- in fact, that's arguably a problem with the score, that unlike Arlen and Harburg's songs for The Wizard of Oz, these songs don't have deceptively simple images and can seem over-sophisticated for a movie about talking cats. (In that they reflect the tone of the movie, which is also trying to load on more sophistication than the story can handle.)
If you compare the staging of "When I See an Elephant Fly," a song with (by its nature) lots of specific physical images, the crows don't act out a lot of the images -- and when they do act them out, it's in a simple way, by gesticulating; they don't contort themselves into the shape of baseball bats. The staging works with the song rather than just mimicking it.
Of course, to stage a song that way you more or less have to have full animation -- if the characters can't act in an individualized way, then they can't do much that isn't in the lyrics. With Gay Purr-ee, a movie that emphasizes layout and design over animation, the option to concentrate on acting and characterization may not have been available; certainly "Roses Red, Violets Blue" (an Arlen/Harburg song so typical of their work that I'm kind of amazed it was newly written for this film) seems a little lost when it comes to patches in the lyrics that don't led themselves to illustration -- when that happens, it's just Mewsette standing there and singing, or long shots of the countryside.