Composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber
Based on T.S. Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats
Directed by Trevor Nunn
Choreography by Andy Blankenbuehler, based on the original choreography by Gillian Lynne
Giuseppe Bausilio, Quentin Earl Darrington, Jeremy Davis, Kim Faure, Sara Jean Ford, Lili Froehlich, Daniel Gaymon, Shonica Gooden, Christopher Gurr, Tyler Hanes, Andy Jones, Kolton Krouse, Eloise Kropp, Jess LeProtto, Georgina Pazcoguin, Emily Pynenburg, Ariana Rosario, Ahmad Simmons, Christine Cornish Smith, Corey Snide, Emily Tate, Ricky Ubeda, Sharrod Williams, Richard Todd Adams, Aaron Albano, Callan Bergmann, Claire Camp, Francesca Granell, Jessica Hendy, Harris Milgrim, Madison Mitchell, Nathan Patrick Morgan, Megan Ort
Scenic, Costume Design: John Napier
Lighting Design: Natasha Katz
Sound Design: Mick Potter
First Performance July 14, 2016
Opening July 31, 2016
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Cats, one of the biggest hits in theatrical history, will return to Broadway this summer at the Neil Simon Theatre (250 West 52nd Street). Preview performances will begin July 14, with an official opening set for July 31, 2016.
Composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber and based on T.S. Eliot’s “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats,” the original Broadway production opened in 1982 at Broadway’s Winter Garden Theatre (currently home to Lloyd Webber’s newest hit, School of Rock – The Musical), where it ran for 7,485 performances and 18 years. Cats was originally produced on Broadway by Cameron Mackintosh, The Really Useful Company Limited, David Geffen, and The Shubert Organization.
When Cats opens, Andrew Lloyd Webber will, once again, have the rare distinction of having three musicals running simultaneously on Broadway: The Phantom of the Opera, School of Rock – The Musical, and Cats.
Charles Isherwood – New York Times
The overriding spirit of the revival appears to be the familiar motto: Don’t mess with success. Once again, the production is directed by Trevor Nunn, with sets and costumes by John Napier. Once again, a Broadway theater has been transformed into a grungy London junkyard, where trash piles up against the walls and spills out into the auditorium — albeit on a somewhat smaller scale. That levitating tire, as famous a set piece as a certain falling chandelier, presides once again at the back of the stage. (Apparently the license plate on the battered car, which reads “NAP 70,” is an in-joke indicating how many productions Mr. Napier has designed. Imagine how many leg warmers have been involved.)
Marilyn Stasio – Variety
Memories could be fatal to this revival of “Cats” — specifically, the memory of Betty Buckley as Grizabella, singing “Memory” as it’s meant to be sung, with heartbreaking beauty and exquisite pain by a great stage performer. Leona Lewis, the British pop star anointed by Andrew Lloyd Webber himself, isn’t in her league. Happily, nothing as catty can be said of the rest of this fabulous revival of the 1981 musical phenom that padded its way around the world on little cats’ feet.
David Cote – Time Out NY
This was a lost opportunity. Rather than lamely re-creating the original (with some punchier added choreography by Andy Blankenbuehler), why not orchestrate the score for acoustic instruments, redo the costumes and dances, and find fresh drama underneath the tacky, dated pageantry? Instead we get a taxidermied pet. If there is heart to the piece, it’s Grizabella, the faded, outcast “glamour cat.” British crooner Leona Lewis has a big, yearning voice, but even her (heavily amplified) yowling of “Memory” can’t make the past worth revisiting.
Jesse Green – Vulture
To be fair, Cats is not quite as bad as cultural elites liked to suggest; there were far worse shows during its 18-year run. But Cats was both pretentious and déclassé, dragging the musical form down from its recent supposed glory just as it dragged Eliot down from Prufrock to Pouncival. This was, after all, the megahit that opened the door for the invasion of European pop operas that all but smothered the native product for two decades. Seeing it 34 years later, in a Broadway environment that has recently produced the likes of Hamilton and Fun Home, is to experience something milder and less dangerous than it once seemed. It’s not so much feline as bovine, as if Nunn and Lloyd Webber had spliced in some genetic material from another Eliot poem of the same period: “Cows.”
Frank Scheck – The Hollywood Reporter
The world can safely be divided into two camps: people who love Cats and those who hate it. The former will be happily satisfied by the new revival reuniting many members of the original creative team (with one notable exception), returning to Broadway 16 years after the closing of the show’s record-breaking original 18-year run. As for the latter, this slightly scaled-down and rejiggered version is unlikely to change their minds.
Matthew Murray – Talkin’ Broadway
These stumbles are primarily due to the new choreography by Andy Blankenbuehler, who may be the first name on everyone’s list now that he’s won his second Tony for Hamilton (his first was for In the Heights, in 2008), but who is not ideal for following in the paw prints of original choreographer Gillian Lynne (on whose work his is based). Lynne’s dances translated cats movements into human, usually balletic, terms, scrupulously balancing the animal character with the human underneath. Blankenbuehler’s dances, like others he’s designed, are attractive and kinetic almost to the point of being needlessly busy, dwelling more on notions of crafting interesting pictures that communicating depth of character or personality—necessities in a show like this one that has little of this in its writing to fall back on.
Jason Clark – The Wrap
Showstoppers like “Magical Mister Mistoffelees” and “Jellicle Songs for Jellicle Cats” get dutiful, but not rousing, interpretations. And although Brit songstress Leona Lewis is blessed with a divine pop belt perfect for the classic 11 o’clock number “Memory,” sadly she does not have the acting chops to put across Grizabella’s tragic arc. Her Griz really needs a lot more… well, grizzle.
Robert Kahn – NBC New York
I imagine I’m not the only one who will lap up the “Cats” revival, now at the Neil Simon Theatre, in part thanks to that musical touchstone. A nostalgia trip with updated choreography—by the man behind the moves in “Hamilton”—this new “Cats” is peppy and kinetic, if sometimes a tad monotonous.
Linda Winer – Newsday
For the resistant rest of us, alas, “Cats” remains an overblown kiddie show. It’s a big, glitzy, repetitious song-and-dance cycle about rebirth that, despite the cachet of being based on T.S. Eliot poems, hardly has an idea in its fuzzy head that goes beyond precious gibberish or that touches the genuine mysteries of felines.
David Finkle – The Huffington Post
I make the offer because, although I recall the earlier incarnation very well—I watched and listened to it in London and New York—I don’t remember every minute. I’m convinced, however, that the revival, again directed by Trevor Nunn, is absolutely as entertaining as initially it was. It may only be my overworking imagination, but I also have the impression that new choreographer, Tony-winning Andy (Hamilton) Blankenbuehler, has been respectfully true to Gillian Lynne’s seminal work while beautifully enhancing it.