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'Cats' Musical Wiki

London Production

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The musical Cats first opened on the West End on May 11th 1981, won numerous awards, gave 8,949 performances, and closed on May 11th 2002 on its 21st birthday. It was the longest running musical on the West End until 8th October 2006, when it was surpassed by Les Miserables.

HistoryEdit

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 favourite. The songs of the musical comprise Eliot's verse set to music by the composer, the principal exception being the most famous song from the musical, "Memory ", for which the lyrics were written by director Trevor Nunn after an Eliot poem entitled "Rhapsody on a Windy Night". Also, a brief song entitled "The Moments of Happiness" was taken from a passage in Eliot's Four Quartets. Andrew Lloyd Webber began composing the songs in late 1977 and premiered the compositions at the Sydmonton Festival in 1980. The concert was attended by T.S. Eliot's wife, Valerie Eliot and she loved the songs that Webber had composed. She gave her blessing for the songs to be adapted into a musical stage play.


Rehearsals for the musical began in early 1981 at the New London Theatre. Due to the Eliot estate asserting that they write no script and only use the original poems as the text, the musical had no identified plot during the rehearsal process, causing many actors to be confused about what they were actually doing. An unusual musical in terms of its construction, the overture incorporates a fugue and there are occasions when the music accompanies spoken verse. The show is completely told through music with virtually no spoken dialogue in between the songs. Dance is also a key element in the musical especially during the 10-minute Jellicle Ball dance sequence.

The set, consisting of an oversized junk yard, remains the same throughout the show without any scene changes. Lloyd Webber's eclecticism is very strong here; musical genres range from classical to pop, music hall, jazz, rock and electro-acoustic music as well as hymnal songs such as "The Addressing of Cats".

Development Edit

As the original production, the London production was very much experimental in nature.  After its huge success, the show transferred to Broadway in 1982, where it was considerably overhauled, made brighter, more cheerful and family-friendly than the dark, exotic world created originally.  Gradually some of these changes filtered back to the London production, such as innovations in costume construction and edited musical arrangements.  The show continued gradually changing until 1996, when it was the main influence on the video production.

As can be seen from the cast list, quite a few tracks were different - such as Mungojerrie playing Macavity, and Bustopher Jones played by the same actor as Old Deuteronomy, not Gus as is conventional now.

Original London Cast (in amphibolical order) Edit

The Original London Cast01:06

The Original London Cast

Jellicle Ball, original London Cast

Finola Hughes as Victoria01:35

Finola Hughes as Victoria

Character Performer
Kitten (Admetus) Steven Wayne
Alonzo / Rumpus Cat Roland Alexander
Kitten (Bill Bailey Peter Barry
Bombalurina Geraldine Gardner
AsparagusGrowltiger  Stephen Tate
Carbucketty David Baxter
Cassandra  Seeta Indrani
Coricopat Donald Waugh
Demeter Sharon Lee-Hill 
Kitten (Electra) Anita Pashley
Kitten (Etcetera) Julie Edmett
George John Chester
Grizabella Elaine Paige
Jellylorum/Griddlebone  Susan Jane Tanner
Jemima Sarah Brightman
Jennyanydots  Myra Sands
Mungojerrie / Macavity John Thornton
Munkustrap Jeff Shankley
Old Deuteronomy / Bustopher Jones Brian Blessed
Quaxo / Mistoffelees Wayne Sleep
Rumpleteazer Bonnie Langford
Rum Tum Tugger  Paul Nicholas
Skimbleshanks  Kenn Wells
Tantomile  Femi Taylor
Victoria Finola Hughes
The Cats Chorus (Booth singers) Nick Hamilton

Jeni Evans

Nichola Kimber

Stephen Hill

Final Cast, May 2002Edit

CATS - 11th May 2002 - The Jellicle Ball10:32

CATS - 11th May 2002 - The Jellicle Ball

CATS - Mr Mistoffelees - 11th May 200207:34

CATS - Mr Mistoffelees - 11th May 2002

Character Performer
Alonzo / Rumpus Cat   Chris Jarvis
Bill Bailey  Robert Foley
Bombalurina Alexis Owen Hobbs
Bustopher Jones

AsparagusGrowltiger 

Peter Polycarpou / Gareth Snook
Carbucketty Jye Frasca
Cassandra  Tiffany Graves
Coricopat Oliver Tydman
Demeter Barbara King 
Electra Julie Carlton
Etcetera Sarah Jane Honeywell
Grizabella Chrissie Hammond
Jellylorum/Griddlebone  Louisa Shaw
Jemima Caroline Bagnall
Jennyanydots  Susie Fenwick
Macavity / Admetus Kenny Linden
Mungojerrie Adrian Edmeades
Munkustrap Jack Rebaldi
Old Deuteronomy Junix Inocian
Quaxo / Mistoffelees Benjamin Tyrrell
Rumpleteazer Lynsey Britton
Rum Tum Tugger  John Partridge
Skimbleshanks  Ross Finnie
Tantomile  Helen Harper
Victor Matthew Attwell
Victoria Sorrell Thomas
Alt. Old Deuteronomy Nicholas Pound
Standby Gus/Old Deuteronomy Carl Sanderson
Swings Clinton Brown
Stori James
Joe Ryan
Andrew Wright
Rebecca Louis
Summer V-Strallen
Kate Tydman
Emma Woods

For further London Casts see here.

Creative TeamEdit

Original Team (1981)Edit

Director: Trevor Nunn

Choreographer / Associate Director: Gillian Lynne

Assistant Choreographer and Choreographer for Wayne Sleep's Tap Solo: Lindsay Dolan

Set / Costume / Makeup Designer: John Napier

Lighting Designer: David Hersey

Sound Designer: Abe Jacob

Production Musical Director: Harry Rabinowitz

Dance Captain: Jo-Anne Robinson

Later membersEdit

Artistic Coordinator / Gillian Lynnes Assistant: Chrissie Cartwright (1986-2002)

Makeup Designer: Karen Dawson (1989-2002)

Awards and NominationsEdit

1981Edit

  • Laurence Oliver Award - Best New Musical - Won
  • Laurence Olivier Award - Outstanding Achievement in a Musical - Gillian Lynne - Won

Gallery Edit

Early Years Edit

Production Images Edit

Promotional Images Edit

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