Cats Launches National Tour in Plymouth, 15 FebDate: 17 September 2002
Andrew Lloyd Webber's Cats will begin another of its nine lives next year when it launches a new nationwide tour. The world’s longest running musical - which hung up its claws in the West End on its 21st birthday, 11 May 2002 – has announced the first dates of its UK touring schedule, which will kick off on 15 February 2003 at the Theatre Royal Plymouth.
Based on the 14 poems of Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats by TS Eliot, Cats is set to music by Lloyd Webber, whose score includes now-classic songs such as "The Jellicle Ball", "Old Deuteronomy", "Mr Mistoffolees" and, most notably, "Memory".
The Cameron Mackintosh-produced show first opened in London in 1981 with a cast that included Elaine Paige, Brian Blessed, Paul Nicholas and dancer Wayne Sleep. Original direction was by Trevor Nunn, with associate direction and choreography by Gillian Lynne, design by John Napier and lighting by David Hersey.
In 1996, Cats became the holder of the record for longest-running musical on the both sides of the Atlantic. Before closing in September 2000, the Broadway production had clocked up 18 years. Worldwide, the musical has taken in excess of $2.5 billion, been performed in 11 different languages in over 300 cities in 26 countries and been seen by more than 50 million people in total.
Cats also holds a place in musical theatre history as being a catalyst for the remarkable partnership between composer Lloyd Webber and producer Mackintosh, who today are two of the most powerful figures in international theatre and whose other joint blockbusters have included The Phantom of the Opera.
Following Plymouth, the UK tour of Cats will continue unitl 28 June 2003 to Manchester, Wolverhampton, Sunderland, Edinburgh and Belfast, with further dates to be announced.
- by Terri Paddock