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The reuniting of the creative team is a perfect idea and the show will take London by storm all over again.” The challenge facing Lloyd Webber will be to retain the original essence of the show while also giving certain elements a modern makeover.
Rum Tum Tugger is now a rapping street dancer, Growltiger’s Last Stand has been rewritten and the show features a new kind of Grizabella – ex-Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger, who is not only capable of belting out a power ballad but promises to bring dance to her role in a way that previous Grizabellas haven’t.
Reviews of the original West End production were mixed.
Some critics felt Lynne’s choreography didn’t match up to the complexity of Eliot’s poems or Lloyd Webber’s eclectic score.
The show has grossed more than £1.7 billion worldwide – it has been a hit everywhere from Japan to Germany – and, at its closure, held the record for the longest-running musical on the West End (at 21 years) and Broadway (18 years).
Now, 12 years after the curtain went down on its 8,949th performance at the New London, the show is about to make a comeback.
“Eliot was fond of a lot of American popular music, and his poetry lends itself to music for that reason,” Lloyd Webber explains.But can the new 21st-century version of Cats stand the test of time?Wayne Sleep, who played the “magical” cat Mr Mistoffelees in the original, is confident it can.Standing in the wings at the New London Theatre on a spring night in 1981, the composer Andrew Lloyd Webber watched the first preview of his latest musical and asked himself whether he might have gone mad.Slinking and sliding around the stage were a company of young actors dressed as cats, complete with skin-tight Lycra and leg warmers, singing lyrics by arguably the most impenetrable poet of the 20th century. “Everybody in the West End thought we were completely and utterly crazy,” Lloyd Webber says now, chuckling.