Cats, by Andrew Lloyd Weber, holds the record for the longest running show on Broadway. It opened on October 7, 1982 and ran on Broadway for 18 years. While not widely acclaimed by critics, Cats has sold tickets in eleven different languages in over three hundred cities in twenty-six countries. Its elaborate costumes, ornate set, and innovative choreography have broken ground for many musicals performed today. The musical is loosely based on T.S. Eliot's book Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats. The plot progression relies heavily on cat-like dance moves choreographed by Gillian Lynne.
The musical starts in a junkyard where the Jellicle cats are holding the annual Jellicle Ball. Every year at this ball, one Jellicle cat ascends to heaven and is reborn. It is up to Old Deuteronomy, the oldest and wisest cat, to decide who will receive this great honor. The cats competing for this privilege include Jennyanydots, The Rum Tum Tugger, Bustopher Jones, Gus: The Theatre Cat, and Skimbleshanks. Grizabella, the faded beauty who is now not well liked, also wants to be considered for this honor but has not been invited to the ball. She is chased away from the ball several times.
Before Old Deuteronomy is able to decide, he is kidnapped by Macavity, the ominous Mystery Cat. Macavity and his two henchmen 'cat burglars' are outraged that they have not been invited to the ball. However, Old Deuteronomy is eventually returned to choose the lucky cat that will be reborn. These scenes include many famous song and dance routines including 'Memory', 'Jellicle Songs for Jellicle Cats', 'The Naming of the Cats', and 'The Ad-dressing of the Cats'.
On Broadway, Cats sold an estimated eight million tickets, and fifty million tickets were sold worldwide. It has broken box office records for ticket sales at the Empire Theatre in England for selling over $200,000 in tickets in just two hours.
In the United States, it opened at the Winter Garden Theatre on Broadway and was directed by Trevor Nunn. Cats sold tickets at a record breaking 7,485 shows, and T.S. Eliot has received a Tony for his contribution to the score. Although he had passed away at the time of this award, his wife is receiving royalties from the show.
Andrew Lloyd Weber is renowned for his excellence in composing and lyricism. Andrew Lloyd Weber has also written The Phantom of the Opera, Evita, and Jesus Christ Superstar. Weber has even been knighted by the Queen of England due to his contributions to musical theater.
The musical Cats is commonly known to any New Yorker or Englishman. On Broadway it is more than just a musical - it is a tradition. Cats has been the blockbuster of Broadway, delighting theater newcomers and diehard fans alike.