Now and Forever: 9 Milestone Moments from Cats
WHERE IT ALL BEGAN
A young Andrew Lloyd Webber enjoyed reading T.S. Eliot's Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats – so much, in fact, that in 1977 he began composing music to accompany the poems.
WE'VE GOT A SHOW
After hearing Webber's composition at the Sydmonton Festival, Valerie Eliot (the widow of T.S. Eliot) gave her blessing for the songs to be adapted into a musical. In 1981, Cats made its stage debut in Webber's hometown of London, and won two Laurence Olivier Awards (the British version of the Tonys).
TAKING ON BROADWAY
The show made its Broadway debut at the Winter Garden Theatre and certainly came in with a bang, racking up 10 Tony nominations in 1983 and winning seven, including Best Musical and Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical for Betty Buckley as Grizabella.
ALL AROUND THE WORLD
In 1983, Cats opened its first production in Tokyo, and later bowed in Australia, China, Spain, Italy, Colombia and, in total, more than 30 countries (and has been translated into 15 languages, too).
On June 19, 1997, Cats became the longest-running musical in Broadway history after 6,183 performances. Its record was eventually surpassed by The Phantom of the Opera – another Webber hit.
ABOVE AND BEYOND
In 1998, Webber produced a video version of Cats with the intent of showing the audience several views of the set and close-ups of the actors. The next year, The Cats Circus Tour began in Australia, where the production was performed in a big top.
Cats left Broadway in September 2000 and later closed in London in 2002 – but if the show's slogan "Now and Forever" was true, we knew it would be back.
A SECOND LIFE
And it did return! The show's original creative team reunited for its revival at the London Palladium, and cast former Pussycat Dolls frontwoman Nicole Scherzinger as Grizabella.