“Andrew Lloyd Webber’s epic Cats takes its characters from T.S. Eliot’s book Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats. Though the book contains no narrative structure, Webber has created one, although what drew audiences to the theatre in droves was the charm of the feline characters, not the tale of what happens to them. The score is rather fetching but simple, with moments of elegance, as in during the now-standard Memory. The longest-running musical of its time, Cats is at times overrated, but as a whole it retains the charm that attracted audiences” (Ruhlmann/ Erlewine).
“Cats was first shown in London’s West End, at the New London Theatre, on May 11, 1981. It had a troubled beginning with Judi Dench cast in the role of Grizabella, which was subsequently taken over by Elaine Paige when Judi snapped a tendon during rehearsals prior to the London opening. The role was beefed up for Paige and ‘Memory’ (originally to be sung by Geraldine Gardner)…was given to Paige” (Wikipedia).
The show “was originally produced onstage by Cameron Mackintosh and Lloyd Webber’s Really Useful Group. It was directed by Trevor Nunn, associate director and choreographer Gillian Lynne, designed by John Napier with lighting by David Hersey. It played a total of 8,949 performances in London. Its final performance in London’s West End was on its 21st birthday, May 11, 2002, and broadcast on a large screen in Covent Garden to the delight of fans who could not acquire a ticket for the final performance. It held the record as London’s longest running musical until October 8, 2006, when it was surpassed by Les Misérables” (Wikipedia).
“The show made its debut on Broadway on October 7, 1982, at the Winter Garden Theatre with the same production team. On June 19, 1997, Cats became the longest-running musical in Broadway history with 6,138 performances. It played a total of 7,485 performances in New York. Its New York record was surpassed on January 9, 2006, by The Phantom of the Opera, which was also composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber. Cats’ final performance on Broadway was on September 10, 2000” (Wikipedia).
“In 1998, Andrew Lloyd Webber produced a video version of Cats, based upon the stage performance augmented for the medium of film…It was directed for film by David Mallet, with choreography and musical staging by the show’s respected original creator Gillian Lynne in London’s Adelphi Theatre” (Wikipedia).