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Composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber, the hit musical 'Cats!' first opened in the West End in 1981, at the New London Theatre. After becoming a huge hit, both in the West End and on Broadway, it has grossed an amazing $342.2 million at the box office. It has been translated into more than 20 languages and has been performed all over the world, many times.


What's the musical about?

The musical is based on TS Eliot's poetry book, written in 1939, entitled Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats. The book was written under the author's alias, Old Possum. He initially wrote the poems to entertain his godchildren. They explored feline sociology and psychology, featuring titles such as The Old Grumble Cat, Growltiger's Last Stand and The Song of the Jellicles.

'Cats!' tells the tale of a gang of cats called the Jellicles - their name taken directly from Eliot's poetry book. It introduces all the cats and explains their different roles, such as elderly theatre cat Gus, Skimbleshanks the railway cat and the legendary Growltiger, known as the 'terror of the Thames' - a kind of pirate cat who lives on a barge on the Thames.

The explosion of music and lights begins in a junkyard, where the Jellicle cats celebrate their one special night of the year, the Jellicle Ball, where all the felines reunite. It includes the musical's most famous song, Memory, with lyrics based on Eliot's poems, Preludes and Rhapsody on a Windy Night.

The history of the show

Composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber, choreographed by Gillian Lynne and directed by Trevor Nunn, the show premiered on 11th May 1981 in the West End and the same creative team took it to Broadway in 1982.

Both productions set new records for longevity - the London show ran for 21 years and the Broadway show for 18 years. Cats is the fourth longest-running show in the history of Broadway. It was the longest-running show until 2006, when it was overtaken by Phantom of the Opera. It is the sixth longest-running show in history in the West End.

It has won a multitude of awards, including Best New Musical at the Laurence Olivier Awards of 1981 and the Tony Award for Best Musical in 1983, when it won seven awards in total.


Famous cast members

Betty Buckley and Elaine Paige owe much of their early career success to 'Cats!'. Paige starred in the original London run as Grizabella and Buckley played the same role in the Broadway show.

Marlene Danielle starred in the Broadway production for the duration of its run from 1982 until 2000, in three different roles, as Swing, Demeter and Bombalurina. She is the former Guinness World Record holder as a result, for Longest Standing Musical Performer.

Other stars have included former Pussycat Dolls' vocalist Nicole Scherzinger as Grizabella in the West End revival of the musical in 2014. Former X-Factor winner turned global superstar Leona Lewis made her Broadway debut, also as Grizabella, in 2016.

In 1998, ‘Cats!’ was turned into a film - again produced by Andrew Lloyd Webber. The cast members were trained by Gillian Lynne, who is the show's original West End choreographer.  Released on VHS, DVD and Blu-ray, the show has also been shown on many television channels, including the BBC.

Following its return to the West End and Broadway in the 21st century, and the productions all over the world, the stage musical's popularity continues unabated.

Although many of the feline stars of 'Cats!' live in a junkyard, a far better environment for strays is a cattery, of course! Here at Coruba, we supply the highest-quality animal rubber matting products for catteries, kennels, stables and other animal environments.

Please contact us for information and we'll be happy to help.

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