How Did the Cats Revival Compare to the Original? Read Reviews from 1982! | Playbill

News How Did the Cats Revival Compare to the Original? Read Reviews from 1982! The original Broadway production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s long-running hit opened on Broadway October 7, 1982. So what did critics make of Cats before it became a Broadway record-breaker?
Betty Buckley and Leona Lewis
Betty Buckley and Leona Lewis Martha Swope, Matthew Murphy

A revamped revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s hit musical Cats opened on Broadway July 31 at the Nederlander Theatre, 34 years after the original production opened at the Winter Garden Theatre for an 18-year run.

We take a look at a handful of reviews for the Broadway original that starred Tony winner Betty Buckley as Grizabella. So, how does Leona Lewis—the revival’s Griz—and the updated choreography from Hamilton’s Andy Blankenbuehler compare?

Read a sampling of critics’ first reactions to Cats in 1982 below:

The New York Daily News:
“The razzle-dazzle of Cats, a British cat cantata set in a junkyard that swept into the Winter Garden last night glittering like a few hundred Christmas trees, may be enough to keep you in your seat for two-and-a-half hours, if not exactly on the edge of it. But in spite of some effective moments, it makes for a strained and eventually wearing evening.” Read the review in full.

The New York Times:
“There’s a reason why Cats, the British musical which opened at the Winter Garden last night, is likely to lurk around Broadway for a long time - and it may not be the one you expect…. The reason why people will hunger to see Cats is far more simple and primal than that: it’s a musical that transports the audience into a complete fantasy world that could only exist in the theater and yet, these days, only rarely does. Whatever the other failings and excesses, even banalities, of Cats, it believes in purely theatrical magic, and on that faith it unquestionably delivers.” Read the review in full.

Cats isn’t a great musical but it’s a great show and an ironclad smash. The latest extravaganza from the prolific and gifted British composer, Andrew Lloyd Webber, takes Broadway legit to a new plateau of technologically enhanced spectacle and is an audience stampeder. It's good for a multiple-year run at the Winter Garden…. If the musical theatre must continue its infatuation with concept shows at the expense of narratives with human dimension, it better have more like Cats.” Read the review in full.

Click here to read what critics thought of the Broadway revival.

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