Celebrate 40 Years of Jellicle Cats on Broadway | Playbill

Archival Photos Celebrate 40 Years of Jellicle Cats on Broadway The original production opened at the Winter Garden October 7, 1982.
Cynthia Onrubia Martha Swope/©NYPL for the Performing Arts

The Winter Garden Theatre celebrated the opening of what would become one of the most successful musicals in the history of Broadway, Cats, on October 7, 1982. Andrew Lloyd Webber's rendition of the T.S. Eliot collection of poems, Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats, boasted advance sales of $6.2 million before it even opened. The show had dance, special effects, no dialogue, and a star in the making: Betty Buckley, singing its most memorable tune, "Memory."

Cats won seven Tony Awards and played in more than 250 cities around the world. By the time it closed September 10, 2000, Cats had played 7,485 performances, far outpacing previous long-run champ A Chorus Line.

Celebrate Over 40 Years of Jellicle Cats on Broadway

Cats starred Buckley as Grizabella, Timothy Scott as Mistoffelees, Kenneth Ard as Rumpus Cat/Macavity/Plato, René Ceballos as Cassandra, René Clemente as Mungojerrie/Coricopat, Wendy Edmead as Demeter, Steven Gelfer as Carbucketty, Harry Groener as Munkustrap, Stephen Hanan as Growltiger/Bustopher Jones/Asparagus, Robert Hoshour as Tumblebrutus, Janet L. Hubert as Tantomile, Reed Jones as Skimbleshanks, Whitney Kershaw as Sillabub, Donna King as Bombalurina, Christine Langner as Rumpleteazer/Etcetera, Terrance V. Mann as Rum Tum Tugger, Anna McNeely as Jennyanydots, Héctor Jaime Mercado as Alonzo, Cynthia Onrubia as Victoria, Ken Page as Old Deuteronomy, Herman W. Sebek as Pouncival, Bonnie Simmons as Jellylorum/Griddlebon, and Walter Charles, susan Powers, Carol Richards, and Joel Robertson in the Cats Chorus. Rounding out the company were Marléne Danielle, Diane Fratantoni, Steven Hack, Janet L. Hubert, and Bob Morrisey as understudies.

Directed by Trevor Nunn and choreographed by Gillian Lynne, the production featured additional lyrics by Nunn and Richard Stilgoe, scenic and costume design by John Napier, lighting design by David Hersey, and sound design by Martin Levan with stage management by David Taylor, Lani Sundsten, and Sally J. Greenhut. Visit the Playbill Vault for the complete cast and creative team.

The show was revived in 2016 at the Neil Simon Theatre and was adapted into a major motion picture starring Jennifer Hudson, Taylor Swift, James Corden, Ian McKellen, and more in 2019.

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