Today marks the 30th anniversary of Cats' Broadway premiere. Based on the whimsical poems of T.S. Eliot’s “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats," the musical first premiered on London’s West End in 1981 before opening at Broadway’s Winter Garden Theatre on October 7, 1982 (the same theater where West Side Story premiered 25 years earlier).
Andrew Lloyd Webber decided to adapt Eliot's 1939 creation "partly because it is a book I remember with affection from my childhood and partly because I wanted to set existing verse to music,” he wrote in the original London production program.
The musical, which tells the story of the one night of the year when the leader of a group of cats chooses a cat to be reborn, is nearly all song with no spoken dialogue, a result of what Weber called its "extraordinarily musical" original verses. Over the decades, it's been no slouch at the awards shows, picking up two Olivier Awards and 7 Tonys, including for Best Musical and Best Original Score. Its closure on September 10, 2000 made it the second longest running show in Broadway history,.
Did you get to catch the iconic show? Let us know in the comments section and check out our slideshow of past 'Cats' productions below:
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