The first Cats Broadway revival opened in summer 2016, produced by The Shubert Organization and Nederlander Organization. Previews began on 14th July 2016 at the Neil Simon Theatre, and opened on 31st July.
A closing date of 30th December 2017 was announced in June of 2016, bringing the run to a total of 593 performances and 16 previews, in the run period just short of a year and a half. At the same time, a national tour was announced to open in January 2019.
The show is developed from the 2014 London revival. Trevor Nunn, the original director, has directed the revival, and the original designs of John Napier are being used. Andy Blankenbuehler has been responsible for controversial new choreography, firmly rooted in Gillian Lynne's original work, however Gillian Lynne has not directly been involved with the development of this production.
Many changes were made to Cats for the production, mainly modifed/new choreography and slight lyric changes to songs. The Beetles' Tattoo section in "The Old Gumbie Cat" has been removed, replaced by the cats tap dancing wearing costumes of hubcaps and 'cleaning' the stage under her direction. "Growltiger's Last Stand" is completely removed, with Gus performing "The Awefull Battle of the Pekes and the Pollicles" (moved to Act 2) as a re-imagined Rumpus Cat. This sequence is performed to resemble an acted out performance involving the tribe rather than a dream sequence like Growltiger. Some changes made previously for the London Palladium production, such as "Street Cat Tugger" and extended moments for Grizabella, were not carried over into this production.
The production's set is based on that of the London Palladium production, with the car registration plate NAP 70 (the same number as the Palladium set). The props and costumes were produced by the London-based makers of the Palladium/UK Tour costumes, rather than Parsons-Meares who made the original Broadway and US Tour costumes. The costume designs are similar to those used on the Palladium production, with certain costumes being further developed; for instance Jennyanydots' basic costume now echoes the spots on her featured Gumbie Cat costume. Tugger now has a new separate ensemble costume for Jellicle Songs for Jellicle Cats rather than wearing his Tugger unitard without the large mane. Bustopher Jones no longer carries an oversized spoon with him. Mistoffelees' light-up jacket was created by Enlighted Designs, creating an updated version of the classic costume.
The Broadway Revival uses a combination of character names from the previous London and Broadway productions. Sillabub is used rather than Jemima, Plato rather than Admetus, and Tumblebrutus rather than Bill Bailey, as is tradition established by previous US productions. However, Carbucketty now exists alongside Pouncival, with the two being separate characters (the former using the London Carbucketty design, the latter using the George design). The ensemble identities during "Jellicle Songs for Jellicle Cats" for Old Deuteronomy, Asparagus and Tugger have also been named Victor, Peter, and Bill Bailey, respectively.
Director: Trevor Nunn
Choreographer: Andy Blankenbuehler
Associate Director & Choreographer: Chrissie Cartwright (recreating Gillian Lynne's original choreography)
Costume & Set Designer: John Napier
Associate Costume Designer: Lisa Zinni
Costume Supervisor: Tracy Stiles
Wigs made by Jenny Dean and Charles Wright
Associate Scenic Designer: Alan Walker
Musical Supervisor/Director: Kristen Blodgette
Lighting Designer: Natasha Katz
Sound Designer: Mick Potter
See the Casting Call for this production.
Opening Night 31st July 2016
Reviews and Articles
Telegraph.co.uk - ***, not impressed with Leona Lewis but liked the rest.
Variety.com - Very positive apart from Leona Lewis not being in the same league as Betty Buckley et al.
Guardian.com - ***, Kitsch, dated... yet strangely adorable.
NYTimes.com - Positive but critical of Leona Lewis.
Daily Fail.co.uk - A tedious, clawing mess.
NBCNewyork.com - Complimentary to Leona Lewis.
TheWrap.com - Dated, not updated enough.
Hollywood Reporter.com - "Fans will lick it up", not very different to original.
Vulture.com - "both pretentious and déclassé"
May 2016 Interview - Andy Blankenbuehler with Broadway Direct
June 2016 Interview - Gillian Lynne and Broadway Revival, The Stage