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Every dog may have his day, but only their feline counterparts have their own blockbuster Broadway musical. The upcoming encore presentation of Cats, to be presented Oct. 12-17 in Raleigh Memorial Auditorium as part of Broadway Series South, is big, bold, and brassy in its celebration of the species. The current National Tour of Cats, which features a magnificent multilevel junkyard set and an impressive variety of eye-catching cat costumes, will delight cat and dog lovers alike.
Taking their text from the free-verse poems for children of Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats (1939) and other writings on cats by St. Louis, Missouri-born British poet and playwright T.S. Eliot (1888-1965), composer Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber, original director Trevor Nunn, and original associate director and choreographer Gillian Lynne created a crowd-pleasing musical that opened in the New London Theatre in London's West End on May 11, 1981 and played 20 years, closing May 11, 2001. Cats won the 1981 Laurence Olivier Award for Musical of the Year and the 1981 London Evening Standard Award for Best Musical.
The original Broadway production of Cats, with starred former Raleigh actor/director Terrence Mann as that playful bad boy Rum Tum Tugger, opened on Oct. 7, 1982 at the Winter Garden Theatre and ran for 18 years, closing on Sept. 10, 2000. It took home seven 1983 Tony Awards®, including the awards for Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical, Best Score, Best Director (Trevor Nunn), and Best Choreographer (Gillian Lynne). 20th century literary giant T.S. Eliot, author of The Waste Land (1922) and The Four Quartets (1943) and winner of the 1948 Nobel Prize for Literature, received a Tony for his "lyrics" 18 years after his death.
The Broadway cast album of Cats won a Grammy.
Cats' signature tune, "Memory," is a real show stopper. It has been recorded by more than 150 artists, from Barry Manilow to Barbra Streisand. It was suggested by and includes lines from Eliot's unpublished poem "Rhapsody on a Windy Night."
Broadway Series South writes, "Now that it's been seen by over 8,250,000 audience members [worldwide, it is time to introduce Cats to a new generation. Midnight. Not a sound from the pavement. Suddenly an explosion of music and light reveals a larger-than-life junkyard. Probing car lights tear across the darkened landscape of bottles and boxes, briefly catching the darting image of a running feline. Tonight is the one special night each year when the tribe of Jellicle Cats reunites to celebrate who they are. This is the story of Cats."
Broadway Series South presents Cats Tuesday-Friday, Oct. 12-15, at 8 p.m.; Saturday, Oct. 16, at 2 and 8 p.m.; and Sunday, Oct. 17, at 2 and 7 p.m. in Raleigh Memorial Auditorium in the BTI Center for the Performing Arts, 1 E. South St., Raleigh, North Carolina. $20-$60. BTI Box Office: 919/831-6060; Group Ticket Sales: 919/847-4565 or http://www.priorityseating.net/. Broadway Series South: http://www.broadwayseriessouth.com/2004-2005/specials.html#cats. Internet Broadway Database: http://www.ibdb.com/show.asp?ID=2449. Really Useful Group (Cats Page): http://www.reallyuseful.com/shows/cats/.