New London Theatre (1981 – 2002)
Directed by Trevor Nunn
Associate Director & Choreography by Gillian Lynne
Set by John Napier
Lighting by David Hersey
Sound by Martin Levan
Dress Rehearsal footage (from 1994)
Cats premiered in the West End at the New London Theatre on 11 May 1981. There was trouble initially as Judi Dench, cast in the role of Grizabella, snapped her achilles tendon during rehearsals prior to the London opening. The role of Grizabella was subsequently taken over by Elaine Paige, who only had 3 days of rehearsal before beginning previews. The role was beefed up for Paige and the song “Memory” (originally to be sung by Geraldine Gardner in the role of the red cat Bombalurina) was given to Paige. The musical was produced by Cameron Mackintosh and Lloyd Webber’s Really Useful Group, directed by Trevor Nunn, with associate director and choreographer Gillian Lynne, design by John Napier, and lighting by David Hersey. It played a total of 8,949 performances in London. Its final performance in London’s West End was on its 21st birthday, 11 May 2002, and broadcast on a large screen in Covent Garden to the delight of fans who could not acquire a ticket for the final performance. It held the record as London’s longest running musical until 8 October 2006, when it was surpassed by Les Misérables.
The front section of stalls seating was built onto the revolve that was part of the New London Theatre, and patrons seated in that section entered via the stage, and took their seats facing downstage. The auditorium was revolved into it’s correct position during the overture, revealing the set to the rest of the audience. It led to the wonderfully enticing newspaper advert shown left, warning that ‘Latecomers not admitted while auditorium is in motion’. Who could resist!
BROADWAY (1982 – 2000)
The show made its debut on Broadway on 8 October 1982, at the Winter Garden Theatre with the same production team. On 19 June 1997, Cats became the longest-running musical in Broadway history with 6,138 performances. It closed on 10 September 2000, after a total of 7,485 performances. Its Broadway record was surpassed on 9 January 2006 by The Phantom of the Opera. It remains Broadway’s second longest-running show in history. Lloyd Webber stated that when the original show was produced, it cost £900,000, but on Broadway, it cost $5,000,000.
LONDON REVIVAL (2014 – 2015)
BROADWAY REVIVAL (2016 – ) Neil Simon Theatre
Directed by Trevor Nunn
Set & Costumes: John Napier
Lighting Design: Natasha Katz
Sound Design: Mick Potter
Choreography: Andy Blankenbuehler
Cats - David Hersey (April 1981)
[LX Plan - click on the thumbnail]
From DHA Designs