Cats claws it way to Music City Nov. 19-24

The cast of the North American touring production of ‘CATS.’
(Photo credit – Matthew Murphy)

There’s one musical that certainly has more than nine lives. One of the biggest hits in theatrical history, CATS, returns to Nashville for its ninth time at TPAC’s Jackson Hall Nov.19-24, 2019.

This marks the first tour of the first-ever Broadway revival of the iconic musical — and the timing couldn’t be more purr-fect. The Tony Award-winning classic has also inspired a major live-action film adaptation which opens less than a month after the revival’s TPAC run.

Composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber and based on T.S. Eliot’s “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats,” CATS has been presented in more than 30 countries, has been translated into 15 languages, and has been seen by more than 73 million people worldwide. The musical debuted on Broadway in 1982 as a flurry of furry acrobats spinning across the stage in perfect synchronization with intricate makeup and patterned body suits. Maybe that’s why it won seven Tony Awards, including Best Musical.

The original Broadway production of CATS held the title of longest-running musical in Broadway history until it was surpassed in 2006 by Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera. It closed on Sept. 10, 2000, and is currently the fourth longest-running show in Broadway history. Both the original London and Broadway cast recordings won Grammy Awards for Best Cast Album. CATS’ hit song “Memory” has been recorded by over 150 artists from Barbra Streisand and Johnny Mathis to Liberace and Barry Manilow.

But these aren’t the same anthropomorphized singing felines you saw in the eighties.

CATS clawed its way back to Broadway in 2016 in a stunning revival featuring new sound design, direction and choreography for a new generation. Trevor Nunn, who directed the original staging, was also at the helm of the revival. It features choreography by Hamilton and Bandstand‘s Tony winner Andy Blankenbuehler, based on the original choreography by Gillian Lynne. The revival played its final Broadway performance on Saturday, Dec. 30, 2017, after 16 previews and 593 regular performances.

The revival of CATS is produced by The Shubert Organization, James L. Nederlander, The Really Useful Group and Cameron Mackintosh. The creative team includes John Napier (Scenic & Costume Design), Natasha Katz (Lighting Design) and Mick Potter (Sound Design).

There’s no denying the continued appeal of CATS. In the 38 years since its London premiere, the musical has displayed the longevity worthy of the nine lives bestowed on the titular creatures. Experience this classic for the first time as it begins a new life, or let it pounce on you all over again.

CATS the motion picture, written by Lee Hall and Tom Hooper, and directed by Tom Hooper opens Dec 20, 2019. The Universal Pictures film is rated PG for peril, some thematic elements and rude humor.

It stars Idris Elba, Jennifer Hudson, Jason Derulo, Taylor Swift, Larry Bourgeois and Laurent Bourgeois, Judi Dench, Rebel Wilson, Ian McKellen, James Corden, and others.