WHAT?S HAPPENING BROADWAY FANS?! Can you believe each day we wake up, we are getting closer and close to Broadway?s biggest night. The 72nd Annual Tony Awards is just 12 days away and we got more exciting performances coming your way on our TOP 40 TONY AWARDS COUNTDOWN. Who is ready for more?
At # 12 is an ultimate family musical classic people have a love or hate relationship with. There is no basic storyline other than some adorable furry creatures that come together to sing and dance in a junkyard. We of course are talking about?.. Cats the Musical. Based off of T.S Elliot?s Old Possum Book of Practical Cats, the show features a score by Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber.
From the 1983 cast, Tony winner Betty Buckley as ?Grizabella The Glamour Cat? and members of the original cast perform a medley of the show?s opening number JELLICLE SONGS FOR JELLICLE CATS and the musical?s iconic signature song MEMORY.
CATS was originally first conceived by Andrew Lloyd Webber who wanted to create a musical montage based on his childhood book Old Possum Book of Practical Cats by T.S. Elliot. The songs were originally premiered at an annual concert that Lloyd Webber used to present called the Sydmonton Festival in 1980. In attendance was T.S. Elliot?s wife Valerie who gave Andrew her blessing. From there, a full creative team was put together including direction by Trevor Nunn, choreography by Gillian Lynn, and producing by Sir Cameron Mackintosh. As rehearsals began for the show, many of the actors were actually confused by the plot of the show?. Apparently there was no storyline. It?s basically Cats singing and dancing out the poetry by T.S. Elliot in a junkyard.
The show originally premiered in London?s West End at the New London Theatre in 1981. It played in London?s West End for 8,949 performances. It was originally the Longest Running Show in West End History till it was surpassed by the still running original production of Les Miserables – Musical. Some of the early reviews for CATS were negative but the audience were raving Lloyd Webber?s music and the elaborate special effects. In addition, the original ?Grizabella? was initially Dame Judi Dench. However, she dropped out due to snapping her Achilles during rehearsal. She was then replaced by Elaine Paige. The original London production was nominated and won its 2 Olivier Awards including Best New Musical.
The success of the show?s buzz in London opened the doors for the creative team to bring CATS across the pond to Broadway. The show arrived on the Great White Way in 1982 at Broadway?s Winter Garden Theatre running for a historical 7,498 (surpassing the original A Chorus Line) as the Longest Running Show in Broadway History till the show got surpassed by Lloyd Webber?s current long running hit The Phantom of the Opera.
The original Broadway production of CATS was nominated for 11 Tony Awards in 1983 winning 7 including Best Musical.
With the success of the original London and Broadway productions, CATS went on to become a worldwide family musical seen by over millions of people everywhere. Productions were played in many countries and translated to every major language (especially the show?s signature song MEMORY).
CATS would later return to London?s West End and Broadway both once. The most recent revival reunited the show?s original creative team to update some of the staging for the 2010 era and part of the celebration of the show?s 30th Anniversary of the show?s debut. The revival first played London?s West End at The London Palladium for a limited 12 week engagement for the Holiday season back in 2014. The production did so well, it embarked on a UK Tour and then returned to the Palladium for that same limited time in 2015. The London revival was nominated for 2 Olivier Awards including Best Musical Revival but lost both the categories.
With the success of the London Palladium engagements, CATS meowed its way back to the Great White Way back in 2016. For the Broadway engagement, some of the choreography was updated by Tony winner Andy Blankenbuehler. It played Broadway?s Neil Simon Theatre for 609 performances. A National Tour of the most recent revival is expecting to kick off in 2019.
CATS continues to be played worldwide with productions around the world along with schools, community, and regional theaters everywhere.
In addition to its success on stage, the original staging of CATS was captured on film in 1998 as a direct to video production. It was filmed at London’s Adelphi Theatre (while the original London production was still playing there at the same time). In addition to its release on VHS and DVD (which is still available), PBS aired the production all across North America. During their annual fundraiser, more people donated to support the station and were able to get see the show either on Broadway or the US National Tour.
Doesn?t this musical make you want to live the MEMORY forever and just meow?
The Original Broadway Cast of Cats performing Jellical Songs for Jellical Cats and Memory
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