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BWW Flashback: Celebrate CATS' Anniversary With a Look Back at its History

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Jellicle Cats, come one, come all! Today marks the 37th anniversary of the original Broadway production of Cats! To celebrate the Tony and Olivier-Award winning musical, we're heading to the Jellicle Ball for a look back at the show's original and revival productions, as well as its two film adaptations. Check out our guide below for a look at the show's history and some of its most memorable moments.


The original West End production of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Cats opened at the New London Theatre on May 11, 1981 and ran for 21 years and 8,949 performances, making it the sixth longest-running West End production in history. The show was produced by Cameron Mackintosh and Webber's Really Useful Group, with direction by Trevor Nunn and choreography by Gillian Lynne. The West End production was nominated for six Olivier Awards in 1981 and won two, including Best New Musical.

Cats debuted at Broadway's Winter Garden Theatre on October 7 1982, and it ran there for 18 years, closing on September 10, 2000 after 7,485 performances. The production is currently the fourth long-running Broadway production in history. It was the most expensive Broadway show ever mounted at the time, with the production costing a total of $5.5 million. The production was nominated for 11 Tony Awards and won seven of them, including Best Musical. The original Broadway cast featured Betty Buckley as Grizabella, Terrence Mann as Rum Tum Tugger, Ken Page as Old Deutoronomy, and more.

'Memory' from the Original Broadway Production

The cast's performance on the Tony Awards

1991 Broadway Cast Performing on a Telethon

Closing Night of the Original Broadway Production

1998 FILM

Cats was first adapted to film as a direct-to-video movie in 1998, with Andrew Lloyd Webber overseeing orchestration for the film and the show's original choreographer, Gillian Lynne, training the cast for the film. David Mallet served as the film's director. Though it was meant to be a recreation of the stage production of Cats, this film included new staging and some cuts to the material in order to reduce the film's running time to just slightly under two hours.

It was filmed in 1997 at London's Adelphi Theatre on a new set and without a live audience present. The film utilized Cats cast members past and present to make up the film's Jellicle Cats, including Elaine Paige as Grizabella, Ken Page as Old Deutoronomy, Jacob Brent as Mistoffelees, and Susan Jane Tanner as Jellylorum.

Jellicle Songs for Jellicle Cats

The Rum Tum Tugger

Mungojerrie and Rumpelteazer

The Jellicle Ball


The Jellicle Cats returned to Broadway in the show's revival, which opened on July 31, 2016 at the Neil Simon Theatre. The revival's cast included Leona Lewis as Grizabella, Tyler Hanes as Rum Tum Tugger, Ricky Ubeda as Mistoffelees, Eloise Kropp as Jennyanydots, Jess LeProtto as Mungojerrie, and more. Mamie Parris later stepped into the role of Grizabella upon Lewis's departure. The Broadway revival closed on December 30, 2017 after 16 previews and 593 performances.

A national tour of this production began performances on January 22, 2019 at the Providence Performing Arts Center and is currently touring throughout North America. The show's touring cast includes Keri Rene Fuller as Grizabella, McGee Maddox as Rum Tum Tugger, Brandon Michael Nase as Old Deuteronomy, and more.

Montage of Clips from the Broadway Revival

Cast Performance on Good Morning America

Closing Night of the Broadway Revival

Behind-the-Scenes at the Revival's National Tour

2019 FILM

The Jellicle Cats are coming to the big screen this holiday season with the film adaptation of Cats. The movie is being directed by Tom Hooper, whose other recent film credits include The King's Speech and Les Miserables. Lee Hall, who wrote both the screenplay of Billy Elliot and the book of the film's musical adaptation, is writing the screenplay for Cats. Tony winner Andy Blankenbuehler, known for his work on Hamilton, Bandstand, and In the Heights, is also involved in the film as its choreographer.

The film's cast includes Jennifer Hudson as Grizabella, Taylor Swift as Bombalurina, James Corden as Bustopher Jones, Judi Dench as Old Deutoronomy, and more. Cats officially wrapped filming in April 2019, and the movie is set to be released on December 20th, 2019. Learn everything you need to know about the film and its cast with our complete guide here!

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From This Author Linnae Medeiros