All good things come to an end - even Lloyd Webber musicals. On Saturday, Jan. 12, Starlight Express closed, and today, Jan. 15, it has been announced that Cats will give its final performance on May 11, the show's 21st birthday.
Cats, based on the poems of T.S. Eliot, was a huge gamble for composer Andrew Lloyd Webber and producer Cameron Mackintosh. Surviving a first night that involved a bomb scare and an evacuation of the theatre, it went on to be the world's most popular musical.
In London, the show has taken £136 million at nearly 9000 performances and has been seen by over eight million people. Worldwide, Cats has taken in excess of $2 billion and has been seen by over 50 million people. The show has been performed in 11 different languages in over 300 cities in 26 countries. "Memory" has had nearly 53,000 plays on radio and television in the UK alone, and airplays in the U.S. passed the 1 million total in 1988 and the 2 million in 1998.
Cats consolidated the already impressive reputation that Elaine Paige had, confirming her as one of Britain's most popular and talented performers, and did much the same for Gillian Lynne, whose choreography was integral to the musical's success.
Cats was also fortunate in its director, Trevor Nunn, and designer, John Napier, whose use of the revolving stage was revolutionary in its time and added to the unique appeal that Cats has had, in a run that has crossed three decades - and two centuries! The Apollo Victoria, home of Starlight, altready has a new musical (produced by Lloyd Webber) lined up. It remains to be seen what moves into the New London after May 11, but the theatre is a versatile space that would lend itself well to a variety of shows.
The announcement leaves The Phantom of the Opera as the only Andrew Lloyd Webber musical running in both the West End and on Broadway.