The West End phenomenon Cats will be streamed for free from tonight, Friday 15th May
Andrew Lloyd Webber’s masterpiece is being made available online as part of his ongoing “The Shows Must Go On” initiative as theatres remain closed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, it will only be available on YouTube in the UK for 24 hours, although the rest of the world can catch it over a 48-hour period.
Based on T S Eliot’s poetry collection ‘Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats’, the show premiered in the West End in 1981 and the following year on Broadway where it received mixed reviews.
However, like British audiences, American theatre-goers soon took it to their hearts and it became one of the longest running shows on both sides of the Atlantic, garnering countless awards before closing after 21 years in London and 18 in New York.
It has since been revived twice in the West End and once over the Pond, but its appeal has taken the world by storm and it has been translated into multiple languages to great success. The German production, for example, ran for 15 years in Hamburg while an ongoing run in a purpose-built theatre in Japan has staged more than 10,000 performances.
And as the fans flood in so have multiple awards – Cats has been named Best Musical at both the Laurence Olivier and the Tony Awards – and revenue. By 2012, it had grossed more than $3.5 billion.
For anyone still in the dark, the story revolves around a tribe of cats called the Jellicles and the night they make the “Jellicle Choice”, deciding which one of their number ascends to the Heaviside Layer to come back to a new life.
It features the iconic song, Memory, a spine-tingling ballad with an almost operatic climax performed by Grizabella, the role – and song – made famous by Elaine Paige, who stars in this production with John Patridge, Jacob Brent, Jason Gardiner and the late Sir John Mills.
The show starts at 7pm on whatsonstage.com
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