Musical Has Less Longevity Than First Time Around
When the musical Cats premiered on Broadway for the first time in the fall of 1982, it was a surprise long-running hit. This show, with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, and book and lyrics by T.S. Eliot (based off Eliot’s book Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats), won seven Tony Awards in 1983, including those for Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical, Best Original Score, Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical for Betty Buckley, Best Direction of a Musical for Trevor Nunn, Best Costume Design, and Best Lighting Design. Outperforming all expectations, the musical then went on to play for an extraordinary run of 7,498 performances (including previews), finally closing eighteen years later in the fall of 2000. Presently, this makes Cats the fourth longest running show ever, just behind The Phantom of the Opera, Chicago, and The Lion King, all three of which are still running in their long-running productions (Chicago is actually still running in its revival, which is the production that holds the record). In any case, with 16 years having passed since the closure of Cats, the producers, including the two biggest landlords on Broadway – the Shubert Organization and the Nederlander Organization – as well as the Really Useful Group, which is Andrew Lloyd Webber’s own London-based production entity, thought that the show was ripe for revival. Unfortunately, this revival had nowhere near the endurance of the original production, as the show will close at the end of this week after just 17 months.
This revival began previews on July 14, 2016, ahead of an opening night on July 31, 2016, and the closing date will take place on December 30, 2017. While 17 months is no small achievement for most shows, these producers must have had high hopes that Cats would once again prove to have a lot more life in it. Like the original, this production was directed by Trevor Nunn, this time collaborating with the choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler (Hamilton, Annie, Bring it On the Musical). The cast included a bunch of Broadway vets and newcomers, but no particularly recognizable names to speak of. These actors included Ahmad Simmons, Tyler Hanes, Christine Cornish Smith, Jakob Karr, Emily Pynenburg, Ron Todorowski, Kim Fauré, Lili Froehlich, Mamie Parris, Sarah Jane Shanks, Eloise Kropp, Ricky Ubeda, Zachary Daniel Jones, Andy Huntington Jones, Christopher Gurr, Daniel Gaymon, Sharrod Williams, Haley Fish, Jessica Cohen, Aaron J. Albano, Emily Tate, Andrew Wilson, Quentin Earl Darrington, and Claire Rathbun, along with an ensemble. Throughout the run, according to all box office figures reported thus far, which include all but the final week, the average percentage reached of the show’s gross potential was 55.84%. The show started off with a bang, with a first week gross of $1,723,569 over 9 performances, representing 107.38% of gross potential, but the numbers never reached those heights again. Having saturated all the diehard Cats fans clamoring to see the show in the first week, the grosses soon settled down into the range of $700,000 to $800,000 with anomaly weeks both higher and lower here and there.
A National Tour to Launch in January 2019
However, with the cessation of the Broadway run, this is by no means the end of Cats for the modern era. Almost exactly a year later, a national tour is scheduled to take off. The tour will take off from the Providence Performing Arts Center in Providence, Rhode Island. Additional stops along the tour already announced include Chicago, Durham, North Carolina, and Los Angeles. The cast will also be announced at a later date. While the Broadway revival was by no means as successful as the premiere production, which grossed a total of $366.4 million by the end, the performance of the revival was still solid with a total gross of $42.9 million. In closing just after the holiday period, the producers decided to cut the show off before it ended a less lucrative cold weather period.
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