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News Archive of CATS Closing Stories

Cats Stars' Big Finale

The original cast of CATS will reunite for a spectacular send off when the hit show ends on Saturday.
Elaine Paige and Brian Blessed, who launched it exactly 21 years earlier, will be joined by around 150 others who have starred in it.
Executive producer Nick Allott said:"The show will take place as normal but there will be a mass finale which is being choreographed as we speak."
Taken from the Daily Mirror, Thursday 9th May 2002, by Steve Atkinson.


Best Fan's 'Bye

Bob Martin, 71, of Eastleigh, Hants, who has been to see CATS weekly for 14 years, will see it twice on its last day, taking his tally to 795.
Taken from the Daily Mirror, Thursday 9th May 2002.


West End Hit Comes To End Of Ninth Life

Record-breaking West End musical CATS will reunite the original cast to bid farewell as it ends its ninth life - on its 21st birthday - tonight.
Elaine Paige & Brian Blessed who launched the musical, which has netted £1.3billion worldwide will be joined by 150 others who have starred in the show.
Film crew provided a live video relay outside for those who can't get tickets for the New London Theatre to see the show - the West End's longest running musical.
Taken from Ceefax (BBC1/BBC2) Saturday 11th May 2002.


Cats to close after 21 musical years

The curtain is to fall on Cats, the world's longest running-musical. The Andrew Lloyd Webber show will close on its 21st birthday, May 11, after nearly 9,000 performances. The closure is the latest blow to the ailing West End which has suffered a slump as overseas tourists stay away due to foot-and-mouth fears and worries about flying since September 11.
Courtesy of LondonDance.com


As the magic fades

The announcement of the end of Cats, made to a shocked cast on Monday night, comes after the London production of Starlight Express, another of his blockbusters, closed on Saturday night after a run of almost 18 years.
Cats is the second most profitable musical in showbusiness history but its West End production has been losing money for 18 months. The lights will dim for a final time on May 11, its 21st birthday.
Cats, which the composer and his critics regarded as a "suicidal" venture when it opened in 1981, turned into one of the greatest showbusiness success stories.
It is the longest-running musical in the history of either the West End or Broadway. In London, with almost 9000 performances under its belt, the show has taken £130 million ($360 million).
Around the world it has taken £1.4 billion, almost £600 million more than Titanic, the world's highest-grossing film. Only Phantom, with receipts in excess of £2 billion, has taken more.
Traditional theatre investors and producers would not touch Lloyd Webber's improbable project, based on T S Eliot's Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats.
Sir Cameron Mackintosh, who eventually agreed to produce it, had to ask theatregoers to stump up £750 each to raise the £450,000 needed to open the show at the New London Theatre in 1981.
The profits have been handsome. Every pound invested has seen a return of £56.70. A £750 investment has meant a profit of £42,500.
Cats spearheaded a golden age of British musicals, making London, not Broadway, the capital of new musicals for 20 years.
Mackintosh disclosed on Tuesday that he and Lloyd Webber had been discussing closing the show for more than a year. "It is sad and emotional but it is the right thing to do,"Mackintosh said."We didn't want to keep it running until it became a poor, unloved old moggy."
Lloyd Webber had major hits with Joseph, Jesus Christ Superstar and Evita but Cats was the show that brought together for the first time Mackintosh, Lloyd Webber and director Trevor Nunn, a triumvirate that went on to dominate musicals.
Lloyd Webber was unavailable for comment on Tuesday, but in a statement he said:
"Obviously I am very sad but, by my calculations, 21 years is a great age for a cat and, after all, it does have eight lives left."
With the closure of Cats, Boublil and Schoberg's Les Miserables is the last West End survivor of the great musical blockbusters that conquered the world in the can-do, Thatcherite 1980s.
Nevertheless, Cats is a show well worth cheering. The combination of Trevor Nunn's brilliant staging, Gillian Lynne's dazzling choreography and Lloyd Webber's infuriatingly unforgettable melody for Memory turned the musical into a must-see event.
In short, Cats - brilliantly and imaginatively produced by Mackintosh, whose first major hit it was - saw the start of an amazing run of good luck for British theatre.
By Charlies Spencer, Thursday 17 January 2002 -Daily Telegraph.
Article [edited from original] courtesy of TheAge.com.au


LIVE RELAY OF CATS LAST PERFORMANCE

There will be a live relay of the last performance of Cats at the New London Theatre this Saturday 11th May in the Piazza in Covent Garden.
Also, the original cast of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical will join 150 other performers for the show's farewell on its 21st birthday. Elaine Paige and Brian Blessed , who launched the record-breaking show, are expected to feature along with Wayne Sleep and Paul Nicholas and dozens who have starred in the show over the years.
Nick Allott, the Executive producer told the BBC, "The show itself will take place as normal but there will be a mass finale which is being choreographed as we speak and we have been working on it since January when the closure was announced....With so many people on stage at once, the places on stage are being worked out to the last centimetre."
Cats burst on to the London stage on 11 May 1981 and completely changed the face of musical theatre history. Opening to rave reviews, it rocketed to success and won a record-breaking number of awards worldwide. The show opened on Broadway on 7 October 1982 and went on to hold a unique position of being the longest running musical in both West End and on Broadway. The phenomenon that is Cats has been performed in front of over 50 million people in over 26 countries, resulting in over £1 billion ticket sales.
Article printed Wednesday 8th May 2002, courtesy of LondonTheatre.co.uk


Cats All Folks!

Now but no longer forever, Cats finally closed on Saturday in London after 21 years....
Our Theatre critic, Mark Shenton, re-visited the Lloyd Webber musical recently:
"It's run longer than the age I was when I first saw it - or to put it another way, it was around for more than half of my lifetime! Seeing it again for one last time, I marvelled anew at how surprising and exciting the show remained."
"Not only did Andrew Lloyd Webber's score burst with musical invention, high spirits and good tunes, but also Gillian Lynne's kinetic choreography provided more dance per minute than any other British musical before or since."
Article courtesy of BBC.co.uk


Cats Got The Cream

After 8,949 performances the West End’s longest-running musical has lived out all nine of its lives and closes on its 21st birthday on 11th May.
Based on the poems of T S Eliot, Cats was not originally thought to have the makings of a hit and Andrew Lloyd Webber had to dig deep into his own pockets to find the £75,000 necessary to make sure the show went on.
The opening night did not go to plan, the star Judi Dench had to bow out with an ankle injury, making way for Elaine Paige to star as Grizabella - only to find a bomb scare clearing the house on the first night, May 11 1981.
But the show, whose original cast included Brian Blessed, Wayne Sleep, Sarah Brightman, Bonnie Langford and Paul Nicholas, has been credited with re-defining the modern musical and proving that British talent can rival the expertise of Broadway.
Cats had a record-breaking run on Broadway, closing on September 10, 2000 after 7,485 performances.
It has taken over £1 billion across the world. In London alone it has been seen by 8m people. It has also scooped several awards, including 7 Tony awards and 2 Olivier awards and the classic song Memory from the musical has been recorded by over 150 artists.
In 1999 the video production of the show was released and became the best-selling music video of the year.
The show's producer, Cameron Mackintosh, has commented:
"It's a fantastic, unique achievement that a major musical can run 21 years - when it opened everyone thought it wouldn't run 21 days let alone as long as it has."
The final show is being screened live from the New London Theatre to a giant screen in Covent Garden.
Prior to the evening’s performance, members of the original cast, as well as dozens that have starred in the show over its 21 years, are expected to meet fans in the Piazza.
Article printed 10 May 2002 - courtesy of BBC.co.uk


NOW BUT NOT FOREVER

The omens were not good. Despite the worldwide success of shows like Jesus Christ Superstar and Evita, Andrew Lloyd Webber was having trouble financing his new musical. While it didn't feature words by his then regular lyricist, Tim Rice, it did however draw on a collection of poems by TS Eliot. And the poems were about cats.
"Everyone," says Cameron Mackintosh, "who teamed up with the composer to produce it when no one else would touch it, thought Lloyd Webber was 'barmy'. They also thought Mackintosh was. And they were probably right, especially when the producer hired Trevor Nunn from the RSC, who had never staged a commercial musical before, to direct it. And booked one of London's most notorious 'white elephant' theatres, the New London in a bleak, unloved stretch of Covent Garden's Drury Lane, to house it. And Judi Dench to star in it."
Then, just days before the opening, Dench had to pull out when she tore an Achilles tendon. It still wasn't looking good (Elaine Paige, London's original Eva Peron, was rushed in to replace her). And then, on the opening night, a bomb scare caused the theatre to be evacuated mid-performance.
But the show didn't bomb. Far from it, in fact: it seemed destined to fulfill its own publicity line: "Now and Forever". But even with nine lives to live, Cats finally shuttered on Broadway in September 2000 after a run of 18 years; and has now announced that it will close here, too, on May 11, its 21st birthday.
As Mackintosh has commented, "It's a fantastic, unique achievement that a major musical can run 21 years - when it opened everyone thought it wouldn't run 21 days let alone as long as it has."
But Cats was something else: a real original. I, for one, will be mourning its passing.
Article courtesy of BBC.co.uk


Cats bows out of West End

Long-running West End musical Cats has ended with a star-studded final show.
The audience for the last performance of the Andrew Lloyd Webber hit saw a host of famous faces rejoining the cast, including Elaine Page and Brian Blessed.
As well as the final show it was also the musical's 21st birthday, making it a double celebration.
Fans disappointed at not getting hold of a ticket watched the performance for free as it was beamed live onto giant screens outside the New London Theatre.
Andrew Lloyd Webber said it was a "huge risk" when it opened.
Cats has closed because it was deemed no longer economically viable to keep it going.
The final night saw a normal performance of the show but with a spectacular finale featuring cast members from past and present.
Among the famous names who have trod the boards down the years and reunited for the finale were Paul Nicholas and dancer Wayne Sleep.
The closure of Cats follows the curtain falling on another Lloyd Webber musical, Starlight Express, which finished its West End run in January.
The musical impresario will now turn his attention to his new show Bombay Dreams which opens in June.
Cats is the longest-running musical production in the West End and Broadway, where it closed in 2000.
It has taken £136m at London box offices and a further £1.25bn worldwide.
More than eight million people have enjoyed the show, which sets to music verses from TS Eliot's 1939 children's book Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats.
It won a Grammy, two Laurence Olivier awards and spawned the hit single Memory, performed by Elaine Paige.
Explaining the closure, executive producer Nick Allott said: "The houses were still very good, but it's an expensive show to run. There comes a point when the margins don't make sense any more.
"But when it ends it will take on a whole new life. There is a tour next year and it will be going out across the whole UK."

Saturday 11 May 2002 - Article courtesy of BBC.co.uk


Last meow for hit musical 'Cats'

A gala cast of 150 actors, including some of the original performers, have assembled at the New London Theatre for the final performance of the hit musical "Cats", which ended its record run after 21 years.
Brian Blessed and Elaine Paige, who helped launch the original show, were on stage for a sold-out performance, which was beamed onto a giant outdoor screen for thousands of fans who were left ticketless.
Andrew Lloyd Webber's tale, based upon the poems of TS Eliot, is one of the world's longest-running musicals, with nearly 9,000 performances in London.
It is bested only by the New York show "The Fantasticks", which closed in January this year after 42 years and more than 17,000 performances.
On London's West End, "Cats" took in STG136 million ($A367.27 million) since May 11, 1981, while around the world it has been performed in 26 countries and 11 languages to more than 50 million people.
It is the second highest grossing musical of all time, behind "The Phantom Of The Opera," also by Lloyd Webber, which is still running in London.
The worldwide box office for "Cats" totals more than STG1.4 billion ($A3.78 billion).
Eliot's "Old Possum's Book Of Practical Cats" provided the lyrical inspiration for the musical.
It also spawned the hit single "Memory," sung by Paige, and which sold more than two million copies in the United States.
Thousands of people who were unable to get tickets were able to see the final night thanks to a live video relay at central London's Covent Garden - usually reserved for performances from the nearby Royal Opera House.
"We are oversubscribed by something like 20 or 30 times for the last night," said "Cats" executive producer Nick Allott.
"The video relay would "give all those people who couldn't get in a chance to see the final show".
The show's website says "Cats" was an "unlikely musical". The producers had a hard time trying to get funding for a musical using a dead poet's works for a book, a newcomer as a designer/director (Trevor Nunn), a composer without his lyricist partner, an unknown British choreographer (Gillian Lynn), and a theatre that hadn't had a successful play in 10 years.
The closure of "Cats" is seen as a blow for London's West End theatre district.
Ticket sales were already sharply down last year because fewer tourists flew to Britain due both to an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in the countryside, and the September 11 attacks in the United States.
Allott said: "It no longer made economic sense to keep running it. The houses were still very good, but it's an expensive show to run. There comes a point when the margins don't make sense any more."
Article printed Monday 13 May 2002; courtesy of News.Ninemsn.com.au


Last miaow : No lives left for Lloyd Webber's hit feline opera

Cats, the record-breaking West End show, received its final curtain call last night after an extraordinary 21-year run.
Members of the original cast, including Elaine Paige and Brian Blessed, reunited before the show at the New London Theatre, while thousands of fans unable to get tickets for the final performance, watched on a big screen erected in Covent Garden.
Andrew Lloyd Webber's show has become the longest-running musical production in either the West End or Broadway. But it is it is no longer economical to run it at the New London Theatre, its home since it opened in 1981.
Cameron Mackintosh, who produced Cats, said that he was proud and happy that the show had been so successful.
"To have anything that has run 21 years and to go out on a great high like this is fantastic," he said. "We're very proud and very happy and of course a bit tearful at the same time." Based on T S Eliot's Old Possum's Book Of Practical Cats, the London production has taken £136m and been seen by more than eight million people. It even spawned a hit single with "Memory" by Elaine Paige reaching number six in the UK. Radio airplays of the song in the US went past the two million mark in 1998.
Cats is the second highest-grossing musical of all time, behind another Lloyd Webber production, The Phantom of the Opera. Worldwide, its box-office takings top £1.4bn.
By Jonathan Thompson, 12 May 2002; Article courtesy of Independent.co.uk


Live video relay of Cats last performance

The last performance of the musical Cats at the New London Theatre - its 8,949th - takes place on Saturday evening 11 May 2002. To mark the occasion - and to allow as many fans as possible to see the last show - there will be a live video relay of the performance to a giant screen in the Piazza in Covent Garden.
The performance starts at 8.30pm and prior to the performance members of the cast are expected to meet fans in the Piazza.
Some 150 former cast members are attending the show at the New London Theatre and the highlight of the last performance is expected to be a specially choreographer mass finale at the end.
Article courtesy of Albemarle-London


Official Press Release....

Cats, the longest running show in the history of musical theatre around the world, will close in London on its 21st birthday on 11 May 02 after playing almost 9000 performances.
Cats, which was conceived and composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber, opened at the New London Theatre on 11 May 1981 with a cast including Elaine Paige, Brian Blessed, Paul Nicholas, Wayne Sleep, Sarah Brightman and Bonnie Langford. This was the World Premiere of the show that became a theatrical legend across the globe. Since that historic First Night in 1981, when the performance was interrupted by a bomb scare and the theatre had to be evacuated, “CATS” has become the show that is generally acknowledged as the production that redefined the modern musical and proved that the British had the talent to stage and perform an original ‘Song & Dance Musical’ that rivalled the expertise and invention of the best of Broadway.
Cats also provided the catalyst for Cameron Mackintosh and Andrew Lloyd Webber to revolutionize the way musicals were put on around the world. For the past 20 years, their productions have dominated the world’s stages in all their original glory and have gone on to run longer everywhere than any other shows in musical theatre history.
Cats became London’s longest running musical on 12 May 1989 when it played its 3358th performance at the New London Theatre beating the record of 3357 performances held by “Jesus Christ Superstar”. On 29 January 1996, “CATS” in London became the longest running musical ever to play in the West End or on Broadway, when the show at the New London Theatre overtook the record of 6137 performances held by the Broadway production of “A Chorus Line”.
In London, the show has taken £136 million at nearly 9000 performances and has been seen by over eight million people. Worldwide, “CATS” has taken in excess of $2 billion and has been seen by over 50 million people. “CATS” has been performed in 11 different languages in over 300 cities in 26 countries. “Memory” has had nearly 53,000 plays on radio and television in the UK alone, and airplays in the USA passed the 1 million total in 1988 and the 2 million in 1998.
Cats, with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by T.S. Eliot, is directed by Trevor Nunn with associate direction and choreography by Gillian Lynne, design by John Napier and lighting by David Hersey.
Cats is produced by Cameron Mackintosh and The Really Useful Theatre Company Limited.
Article courtesy of Londontheatre


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