Andrew Lloyd Webber's CATS, the most famous musical of all time, first exploded onto the West End stage in 1981. 'Memory', one of its many classic songs, became an instant worldwide hit. Since then CATS has smashed records and conquered the world. Using the latest technology, all the excitement, thrill, romance and intimacy of this theatrical legend has been captured on screen. Breathtaking visuals and full digital sound (that has been completely re-recorded with a seventy piece orchestra) will leave you deep into the mysterious world of CATS as you've never seen it before - more intoxicating and magical than you could possibly imagine. With a star cast including Elaine Paige and Sir John Mills. Written by
Did You Know?
"CATS", a musical composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber, based on "Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats" by T.S. Eliot, produced by Cameron Mackintosh and Andrew Lloyd Webber's Really Useful Group, opened in the West End of London at the New London Theatre on 11 May1981, directed by Trevor Nunn, and the associate director - staged and choreographed by Gillian Lynne; set and costume design by John Napier, and lighting by David Hersey. Andrew Lloyd Webber and his long time collaborator Tim Rice had a falling out in 1977. Webber, to show Rice that he didn't need a lyricist, set Eliot's verse to his compositions, the principal exception being the most famous memorable song from the musical, "Memory" for which the lyrics are credited to director Trevor Nunn after an Eliot poem entitled "Rhapsody on a Windy Night". Also, a brief song entitled "The Moments of Happiness" was taken from a passage in Eliot's "Four Quartets". Andrew Lloyd Webber premiered the compositions at the Sydmonton Festival in 1980. The concert was attended by T.S. Eliot's wife, Valerie Eliot and she loved the song folio that Webber had composed; giving her blessing for the songs to be adapted into a stage musical play. Andrew Lloyd Webber and Cameron Macintosh needed a theatre and a venue to start production and rehearsals. Scouting venues for their production with designer John Napier they discovered a vacant television-theatre-audience stage with an existing 36' diameter turn-table; the facility and stage had been built for and used primarily for television production. The facility had offices, dressing rooms, scene dock. The building's television studio-stage had an adequate floor (daily-game-show) audience seating area with the raised stage occupying two thirds of the building's studio-stage foot-print. The audience second floor horse-shoe ring balcony was above the floor audience section. The orchestra area was nestled beneath the upper horse-shoe audience view of the stage's balcony's left side. The set that John Napier designed for the theatre venue comprised an enormous mound of over-scaled scenic elements comprising automobile parts, rubber tires, architectural elements, and typical discarded household trash items. With no house curtain, the audience arrived, sitting in their seats, staring at this huge mound of JUNK piled in front of them. As the overture started, the house lights dimmed to complete total darkness, embedded in the scenic eight foot high alley trash hedge of junk, cat's eyes started blinking, through-out a scenic mountain of trash. Slowly, the turntable rotated revealing the empty central stage area: performers represented the flash and glitter of the 80s London art scene, dressed in camp punk feline fur-patched costumes who crept out of the trash pile crevices, an automobile's back-end trunk 'bonnet' lid lifting, felines pouncing onstage from the set's over-sized crates, barrels, pipes and card board crumpled box lids into the performances opening: the cats gather on stage and explain the Jellicle tribe and their purpose "Jellicle Songs for Jellicle Cats", explaining how the different cats of the tribe are named, which signals the beginning of the "Jellicle Ball"- the night they make what is known as "the Jellicle choice" and decide which cat will ascend to the heaven-side layer and come back to a new life. Due to the Eliot estate asserting that they write no script and only use the original poems as the text, the musical had no identified plot during the rehearsal process causing many actors to be confused about what they were actually doing. An unusual musical in terms of production construction, the overture incorporates a fugue; there are occasions when the music accompanies spoken verse. The musical-play is completely told through music with virtually no spoken dialogue in between the songs. Dance is the major key element in the musical especially during the opening 10-minute Jellicle Ball dance sequence. The original London show budget was 900,000 pounds. "CATS" played a total of 8,949 performances in London. The final performance was on its 21st birthday, 11 May 2002, and broadcast on a big screen in Covent Garden to the delight of fans who could not acquire a ticket for the small theatre."CATS" held the record as London's longest running musical until 8 October 2006, when it was surpassed by "Les Miserables". "CATS" has been staged in twenty-six countries. See more
Edited into Great Performances: Cats