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This Day in History - May 11

'Cats' premiered on the West End.
Feature | May 11, 2017 | By Jonathan Shipley


On this day, in 1981, in London's West End, Andrew Lloyd Webber's Cats premiered. It opened on Broadway in 1982 and won Best Musical at the Tony Awards. The London production ran for 21 years. The Broadway production ran for 18 years, both setting records. One actress, Marlene Danielle, performed in the Broadway production for its entire run (1982-2000). It's been translated into 20 langauges and there's rumors that it will be a movie sometime in the near future. 

The musical is based on the poetry of T.S. Eliot and tells the story of a tribe of cats called the Jellicles who are deciding which cat will ascend to the Heaviside Layer and come back to a new life. 

Some Cats facts:

T.S. Eliot's widow, Valerie Eliot, gave Andrew Lloyd Webber her blessing for the stage adaptation.

To finance the show, Webber ended up mortgaging his house.

Judi Dench was cast as the original Grizabella, but had to withdraw due to a torn Achilles tendon.

T.S. Eliot won a posthumous Tony Award.

The show has been the largest single generator of theatrical jobs in Broadway history.

One of the most famous Broadway songs ever created is in the show:

The Rum Tum Tugger:

From the original production: