Through the Years

Ever since its world premiere in 1981, the popularity of Cats around the globe has been phenomenal. Take a look at a few of the milestones and significant events seen in the world of Cats since T.S. Eliot first published Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats in 1939.

1939 – Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats Published

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T.S. Eliot wrote the poems in the 1930s, and included them, under his assumed name “Old Possum,” in letters to his godchildren. They were collected and published in 1939 with cover illustrations by Eliot himself.

1977 – Work begins to bring TS Eliot’s poems to life

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Andrew Lloyd Webber began composing music to accompany the poems that he had been fond of while growing up. The music would later become central to Cats the Musical.

1980 – Composition Premiere

The compositions that had been composed three years previous were premiered at the Sydmonton Festival. Valerie Eliot, the widow of T.S. Eliot, attended the concert and gave her blessing for the songs to be adapted into a musical.

1981 – World Premiere at the New London Theatre

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Cats makes its stage debut at the New London Theatre in London’s West End starring Elaine Paige as Grizabella, and goes on to win two Laurence Olivier Awards.

1982 – Cats the Musical arrives on Broadway

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Cats made its Broadway debut at the Winter Gardens Theatre, and later received the Best Musical award at the Tony Awards.

1983 – Cats reaches Japan

Cats opens its first professional production in Tokyo, Japan and has played nearly continuously in the country ever since, regularly changing venues.

1985 – Cats opens in Australia

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Cats had its Australian premiere at the Theatre Royal in Sydney. The production ran for more than two years before moving to Melbourne.

1997 – Cats becomes a world record holder

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On 19th June 1997, Cats became the longest running musical in Broadway history after 6,138 performances.

1998 – Cats on Screen

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A film version of Cats is produced, based on the stage version. It was filmed in London’s Adelphi Theatre as was released on VHS, DVD and broadcast on television worldwide.

1999 – Australian Tent Tour

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The Cats Circus Tour, or Cats – Run Away to the Circus, was the first production of Cats that was played in a big top. It toured through Australia until 2001.

2002 – Cats London comes to a close

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Cats played its final performance on its 21st birthday on London’s West End. The last show concluded with a 20-minute finale featuring 200 cast members from former productions of Cats, who had come together from all corners of the world.

2003 – Cats opens in China

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Cats opens for the first time in China as part of a world tour.

2014 – London revival starring Nicole Scherzinger

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The 2014 revival of Cats opens at the London Palladium with the original creative team at the helm and Nicole Scherzinger starring at Grizabella.

2013 – The largest production of Cats is staged in Birmingham

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Stagecoach Theatre Arts schools celebrate their 25th anniversary by performing Cats in the Birmingham National Indoor Arena. 3500 children from across Europe joined together with a virtual choir of international Stagecoach students and produced the largest production of Cats yet.

2015 – A new life for Cats

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Following the success of the London Palladium revival Cats finds a new life around the world. New productions are announced in London, Blackpool, Paris, Australia and New Zealand.