On Nov. 2, at 8:00 PM, Cats, the longest-running show in Broadway history, will have its world television premiere on Thirteen/WNET's "Great Performances" in a restaged production with an augmented 76 piece orchestra. The Andrew Lloyd Webber mega-hit, based on "Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats" by T.S. Eliot, stars Elaine Paige as Grizabella, the role she originated in the show's 1981 London premiere; Ken Page as Old Deuteronomy, the role he originated on Broadway; and John Mills.
The production, directed by David Mallet, will be available on PolyGram video Oct. 27. "Great Performances" is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, public television viewers and PBS. Major corporate support is provided by The Chase Manhattan Private Corporation and The Chase Manhattan Private Bank.
Parents -- mark the date: On Oct. 19, 1998, tickets will go on sale for Kids' Night on Broadway performances in nearly 50 cities nationwide. Every adult purchasing a full-price ticket will receive a free ticket for a child aged 6 to 18. Participating shows around the country include Annie; Big; Bring in 'da Noise, Bring in 'da Funk; Cats; Chicago; Footloose; Les Miserables; The Phantom of the Opera; The Sound of Music; Smokey Joe's Cafe; and Victor/Victoria.
In New York, Kids' Night will be celebrated on Jan. 26, 1999, with other dates to be announced. In other cities, select dates in Jan. and Feb. 1999 will be announced. Most cities, including New York, will offer a seven o'clock curtain, parking and restaurant discounts and a Kids Fan Fest with a variety of backstage activities.
Kids' Night on Broadway is a project of The League of American Theatres and Producers and the Theatre Development Fund. For national ticket information, call The Broadway Line at 1-888-411-BWAY (2929) or (212) 302-4111 in the New York metropolitan area. ALL THAT JAZZ
For anyone interested in the history of jazz, ragtime or the Broadway musical, a new book, "Spreadin' Rhythm Around: Black Popular Songwriters, 1880-1930," is a must. Written by David A. Jasen, a renowned authority on ragtime and popular music, and Gene Jones, an actor and sheet music collector, this diligently researched book chronicles the rise of African-American songwriters from the 1800's to the Broadway revues of the 1920's. The authors detail the Minstrel Era, the beginnings of Tin Pan Alley and the first black composers on Broadway, including those great composers of the 1920's -- Noble Sissle, Eubie Blake, Henry Creamer, Turner Layton, James P. Johnson and Fats Waller (Schirmer Books, $29.95).
-- by Louis Botto