Fri, Jul 02, 2004 - Page 17 News List

'Cats' returns for a popular series of performances

Tickets have nearly all sold out for the up-coming month-long run of Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical, `Cats'

By Gavin Phipps  /  STAFF REPORTER

Cats is a song-and-dance version of T.S, Eliot's Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats, as interpreted by Andrew Lloyd Webber.

PHOTO COURTESY OF MNA

When Andrew Lloyd Webber's Really Useful Group (RUC) brought Cats to the National Theatre in August of last year, hordes of West End/Broadway musical fans wasted no time in purchasing the hotly sought after tickets. The show proved so popular that tickets for all 18 shows in the series had sold out long before the troupe had even stepped off the airplane.

And this certainly wasn't a one-off phenomenon, as anything with Andrew Lloyd Webber's name stamped on it is guaranteed to be a sure fire-fire hit when it takes to the boards in Taiwan.

Ticket sales for recent performances of the Phantom of the Opera sold out within a month of going on sale and tickets for the up-coming performances of Cats are equally popular. With the exception of seats priced at NT$3,600 and NT$4,800, all the cheaper tickets for the Sydney-based Asia RUC's 27-performance, month-long run at the Metropolitan Hall, sold out over a month ago.

"I think it's obvious that Taiwan audiences enjoy musicals because the top billing shows in Taiwan over the past couple of years have been Cats and Phantom of the Opera," said Victor Hsu (許峻郎) of the promotion company Management of New Arts (牛耳藝術). "The productions are always of a high quality and, of course, they all encompass the legend of Andrew Lloyd Webber."

Since Cats debuted in London in 1981, the show has proven to be a lot more than simply "another musical." The smash hit show has bedazzled audiences from New York to Tokyo and earned a reputation as one of the world's favorite musicals and the one that spawned the well-known hit song, Memory.

Based on T.S. Eliot's Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats, a collection of 14 poems about feline friendship, the award winning musical played to packed houses in London's West End from 1981 to 2002, which made it the longest-running musical in the history of the British theater.

As well as breaking box office records on a global scale, the show has also been honored on more than a dozen occasions by theater critics around the world. The awards bestowed on Cats include the Laurence Olivier Award for Musical of the Year, the Evening Standard award for Best Musical, the Moliere Prize for Best Musical in France, a Circle Award for best musical in New York and a Dora Mavor Moore Award for best musical in Canada. Along the way the show has also managed to pick up half a dozen Tony Awards, and seven awards in Japan.

Various regional divisions of Lloyd Webber's RUC have performed the musical about felines in more than 300 cities worldwide and the show has been translated into 10 languages. Regardless of alterations in language the storyline has remained unchanged over the years.

Cats tells of the antics of a group of feline friends from the Jellicle tribe of cats who gather at a junkyard for the annual Jellicle Ball. During the festivities one lucky cat will be bestowed with an extra life. Cats will be cats, however, and the tension mounts and rivalries are fueled as the leading contenders for the extra life try to out do each other over a backdrop of memorable songs and breathtaking dance routines.

Because the number of tickets still available is now very limited, fans of Lloyd Webber and Cats are advised to purchase them as soon as possible in order to avoid disappointment.

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What: Andrew Lloyd Webber's Cats

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