Longest Running Musical Cats Turns 18 TodayDate: 11 May 1999
Andrew Lloyd Webber's blockbuster musical Cats celebrates its 18th birthday in the West End today, 11 May 1999. The play is the longest running musical on both sides of the Atlantic.
The internationally award-winning show is based on T.S. Eliot's Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats which unveils the secret lives and personalities of the feline characters in the lead-up to the annual Jellicle Ball. During the ball, one cat will be selected to enter the Heavyside Layer, thus earning a precious extra life. The score includes many now well-known songs such as 'Memory' and 'The Magical Mr Mistoffolees'.
Cats' West End home, the New London Theatre, was specially gutted and rebuilt to accommodate the show, particularly John Napier's now famous set of alley junk. The musical continues to run there to full houses and is currently booking to January 2000.
Last month, Lloyd Webber bought back full control of his company, the Really Useful Group, from Hollywood studio Universal for $75 million. The deal gives Lloyd Webber, for the first time in his life, 100 percent copyright ownership of all of his musicals, which include Cats, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Sunset Boulevard, Aspects of Love, Evita and Song and Dance. In addition to Cats, three other Lloyd Webber musicals are currently playing in the West End - Starlight Express (the second longest running musical at 15 years), Phantom of the Opera (12 years) and his latest, Whistle Down the Wind which opened last July.