Now, Forever...and Again! Cats Revival Sets Broadway Dates

Grizabella is headed for the Heaviside layer once more! Broadway's The Shubert Organization and Nederlander Organization are teaming up to produce the long-rumored revival of the Andrew Lloyd Webber/T.S. Eliot musical Cats this summer.

The onetime longest-running show in Broadway history has booked the Neil Simon Theatre, with previews beginning July 14 and an official opening set for Aug. 2. A production spokesperson told that this will be an entirely new production based on the 2014 London Palladium revival, but with new dances by Broadway's red-hot Andy Blankenbuehler, choreographer of Hamilton and In the Heights, based on the original choreography and associate direction by Gillian Lynne.

The London revival that featured several musical updates, including a rapping Rum Tum Tugger.

Trevor Nunn, who staged the original London and Broadway productions, will direct the revival. His creative team includes Mick Potter (sound design), Natasha Katz (lighting design) and John Napier (scenic and costume design).

The cast of <i>Cats</i>
The cast of Cats

Based on T.S. Eliot's book of poems about fantastically-named felines, "Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats," Cats immerses the audience in the world of "Jellicle Cats," a special breed that sing about their unique qualities before gathering for a Jellicle Ball at which one among them is chosen to ascend to the supernatural "Heaviside Layer."

Lloyd Webber's score produced the standout single "Memory."

Cats opened on Broadway at the Winter Garden Theatre Oct. 7, 1982, where it ran for 7,485 performances before closing Sept. 10, 2000. It held the title of Broadway's longest-running musical, but was surpassed by Lloyd Webber's other hit, The Phantom of the Opera, which currently holds the title. Cats won seven Tony Awards including Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical, Best Lighting and Best Costumes. Betty Buckley won a Tony for her performance as Grizabella on Broadway.

In the final years of its run it advertised itself as "Now and Forever." Cats held the title of longest-running Broadway show for nearly six years, but has since been surpassed by The Phantom of the Opera, Chicago and The Lion King, all of which are still running.

Zizi Strallen, Charlene Ford and Clare Rickard
Zizi Strallen, Charlene Ford and Clare Rickard

Following its 1982 New York premiere, the musical became an international phenomenon and has continuously toured the U.S. for 30 years in various union and non-union productions. In 1991 Cats also became the longest-running continuous tour in U.S. history.

Once the revival is open, Lloyd Webber will enjoy a distinction he hasn't known since his 1980s-90's heyday: he will have three musicals running simultaneously on Broadway: The Phantom of the Opera, School of Rock – The Musical and Cats.

Actress/singer Nicole Scherzinger, who played Neil Patrick Harris' intrepid sidekick on his 2015 variety show, "Best Time Ever," has said she was in talks to recreate her Olivier-nominated London performance as Grizabella. She was not mentioned in the official announcement of the production. Nor were any other cast members.

In February 2015 Lloyd Webber appeared on BBC's "The Chris Evans Breakfast Show" to share a first-listen of Scherzinger's single for "Memory." At that time the creator of Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita, Sunset Boulevard and more said, "We are going to be taking Cats to Broadway. I just hope and pray that [Scherzinger's] gonna agree to do it there. Because I think she'd take America by storm."

Scherzinger appeared on the "Today" show Oct. 20 to confirm that she's still in talks, and asserting, "I can't wait to come here."

In a subsequent interview with UK's Telegraph, Lloyd Webber spoke a bit more about a possible Broadway production of the feline-themed musical, explaining, "[The London revival] did three times better than we thought it would. Thirteen weeks at the London Palladium. I know that building and that’s almost impossible. It has kicked it off again all round the world. Everyone now wants to take the production. It has a new face and is seating a completely new audience. That’s very exciting to see."