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Composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Cats is based on T.S. Eliot's Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats (1939), which the composer, recalled as having been a childhood favorite. Webber's eclecticism is very strong in this production as musical genres range from classical to pop, music hall, jazz, rock and electro-acoustic music as well as hymnal songs. The set consists of an oversized junkyard, which remains the same throughout the show.

Cats was first shown in at the New London Theatre, 11 May 1981. It played a total of 8,949 performances in London. It held the record as London's longest running musical until 8 October 2006, when it was surpassed by Les Misérables. The show made its debut on Broadway on 7 October 1982 and on 19 June 1997, Cats became the longest-running musical in Broadway history with 6,138 performances. It played a total of 7,485 performances in New York. Its New York record was surpassed on 9 January 2006 by The Phantom of the Opera, which was also composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber. Cats' final performance on Broadway was on 10 September 2000. It remains to be Broadway's second longest-running show in history.


Act I — When Cats are Maddened by the Midnight Dance

Jellicle Cats gather on stage for the Jellicle Ball. As they wait for the Ball to begin, the Cats spot the human audience and explain how the different Cats of the tribe are named. Also, Munkustrap tells the audience that this is the night when Old Deuteronomy will choose a cat to be reborn into a new life on the Heaviside Layer.

Different Cats that may be chosen to be reborn into a new life are presented. Munkustrap introduces Jennyanydots, a large tabby cat. She "sits and sits and sits" all day, while at night she rules over the mice and cockroaches, teaching various activities to them. The music instantly changes, and The Rum Tum Tugger makes an extravagant entrance. Rum Tum Tugger is a Tom with a wild mane and leopard spots on his chest. He is very fickle and unappeasable. A shabby old grey cat stumbles out and looks around. It is Grizabella, who was once known to be the ‘glamour cat’. The Cats sing of her saddened, unfortunate state. Grizabella leaves and the music changes to a cheerful beat. Bustopher Jones, a fat cat in "a coat of fastidious black", appears. Bustopher Jones is among the elite of the cats, and visits prestigious gentlemen's clubs. Hushed giggling signals the entrance of Mungojerrie and Rumpelteazer, a pair of near-identical cats. They are petty burglars, mischievous, and they enjoy causing trouble for human families.

Finally, the Jellicle patriarch, Old Deuteronomy, shows up. He is a large old Cat that “has lived many lives” and “buried nine wives”. He is the one who will choose which Jellicle Cat will go to the Heaviside Layer. After a few words from Old Deuteronomy, the Jellicle Ball begins.

After the Ball, Grizabella reappears, refusing to be left out of the festivities. Once again, she is shunned by the other cats, but that does not stop her from singing a short version of 'Memory'.

Act II — Why Will the Summer Day Delay — When Will Time Flow Away?

After the Jellicle Ball, Old Deuteronomy sings of what happiness is. Gus shuffles forward. He is the cat that once was a famous actor but now he is old and suffers from palsy, which makes his paws shake. Meanwhile, Skimbleshanks is sleeping in the corner. He is a cat who is unofficially in charge of the night train to Glasgow. He is clever and important because if he is gone, the train can’t start.

With a third crash and an evil laugh, the "most wanted" cat, Macavity appears. He is a “master criminal” and never is found at the scene of the crime. He is a horrifying looking cat and a “villain” of the Jellicle Tribe. Macavity shows up and captures Old Deuteronomy. The Rum Tum Tugger suggests that the cats find the magical cat, Mr. Mistoffelees. Mr. Mistoffelees is black and small and can perform many feats of magic that no other cat can do. He succeeds in bringing back Old Deuteronomy. The Jellicle choice can now be made. Old Deuteronomy sits down and Grizabella appears for the final time.

Old Deuteronomy allows her to have a chance to address the cats. Her faded appearance and lonely disposition have little effect on her song. Her appeal succeeds and she is chosen to be the one to be reborn into a new life on the Heavyside Layer. Old Deuteronomy gives his closing speech to the human audience and the show comes to a close.

Date Posted: 11-24-2010