Look Back at Over 35 Years of Cats on Broadway | Playbill

Photo Features Look Back at Over 35 Years of Cats on Broadway Ahead of the film adaptation’s arrival in theatres December 20, Playbill is revisiting Andrew Lloyd Webber’s classic musical on stage.
René Ceballos, Bonnie Simmons, and Donna King Martha Swope/©NYPL for the Performing Arts

After more than a year of anticipation, trailer releases, and talk show frenzy, Tom Hooper's film adaptation of Cats is set to arrive in theatres December 20. In honor of the movie's release, Playbill looks back at Andrew Lloyd Webber's classic musical onstage.

The Winter Garden Theatre celebrated the opening of what would become one of the most successful musicals in the history of Broadway, Cats, on October 7, 1982. Webber's adaptation of the T.S. Eliot collection of poems, Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats, boasted advance sales of $6.2 million before it even opened. The show had dance, special effects, no dialogue, and a diva in the making: Betty Buckley, singing its most memorable tune, "Memory."

Cats won seven Tony Awards and played in more than 250 cities around the world. By the time it closed on September 10, 2000, Cats had played 7,485 performances on Broadway, far outpacing previous long-run champ A Chorus Line.

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The movie stars Jennifer Hudson as Grizabella, Taylor Swift as Bombalurina, Francesca Hayward as Victoria, Judi Dench as Old Deuteronomy, Robbie Fairchild as Munkustrap, Rebel Wilson as Jennyanydots, Jason Derulo as Rum Tum Tugger, Laurie Davidson as Mr. Mistoffelees, James Corden as Bustopher Jones, Idris Elba as Macavity, and Ian McKellen as Gus.

Cats features choreography by Tony winner Andy Blankenbuehler (Hamilton), having previously worked on the 2016 Broadway revival. The soundtrack, which includes Andrew Lloyd Webber and Swift’s Golden Globe-nominated “Beautiful Ghosts,” is also out December 20.


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