The Cats Circus Tour - or CATS - Run Away to the Circus, as it was officially called - was the first production of Cats that was played in a big top. It toured through Australia from 11 Dec 1999 to 24 Feb 2001. Because the show took place in a circus tent, the audience sat around the stage, similar to the original London production at the New London Theatre. The tent was much bigger than a usual big top; it had c. 2000 seats.
This production introduced new wig designs for Mungojerrie, Rumpleteazer, Rum Tum Tugger, Victoria and Electra. While the other three were retained for future productions, Victoria's ringlet wig and Tugger's shorter more 90s rock wig were reverted to their older designs during the course of the tour.
Many of the actors were also known from other Cats productions. Jason Moore, Delia Hannah and Nicola Fraser had all been on previous Australian tours. Oliver Tóth had been seen in Belgium and Hamburg, Matthew Pike had also performed in Hamburg before. Sharyn Winney, who played Tantomile, Markham Gannon, and Brian Gillespie could later be seen on the Asia-Pacific Tour.
Other productions of Cats have used travelling Big Tops: In 2001, a second tent was built, this time in white, for the World Tour. In 2003, the Australian black tent was reused for a South Korean tent tour. In 2010, the first European tent tour started in Hamburg, Germany.
- Musical Advisor: Peter Casey
- Circus Co-ordinator: Scott Grayland
- Production Musical Supervisor: Guy Simpson
What was special about the production were the special circus elements in the show, created by director Jo-Anne Robinson and acrobatic trainer Scott Grayland. There were two trapezes instead of one and they were much more often used than in usual productions of Cats; especially during the Prologue and the Jellicle Ball. Also other acrobatic elements that are known from circus shows, e.g. slack wire, ball balancing, tumbling and bungee, had been included. Therefore, the cast had to learn such skills during a 3 month workshop. Director Jo-Anne Robinson spent some time in China before, working with circus acrobats.
Mungojerrie played the role of the 'circus captain' who directed the other cats who had the role of the main circus performers: Munkustrap, Tumblebrutus, Admetus and Quaxo. Griddlebone was introduced via slackrope.
Andrew Lloyd Webber's CATS is the most famous musical of all time. It is the longest running musical on London's West End and on Broadway and has been seen by over 50 million people worldwide.
CATS is a feast of wonderful songs including the hit song 'Memory'. CATS is also a visual spectacle of breath-taking choreography, stunning costumes and astounding lighting and staging effects. It is this combination which captivates audiences of all ages and draws people around the world to see CATS again and again.
For the first time ever, CATS will be presented in the Cats Big Top, a custom-built 2000 seat venue with carpeted walkways and climate-controlled air conditioning. As you enter the magical carnival atmosphere of the Cats Village, you will be immersed in an entertainment experience like no other.
With a touring party of over 150 people and 86 vehicles, this is the largest scale tour of a musical the world has ever seen. From capital cities to the most remote regional towns this unique production takes a major musical to more people than ever before.
The choreography has been enhanced with never-seen-before circus acrobatic elements. The semi-in-the-round staging, based on the original West End production design, ensures that every seat is close to the action.
This exciting new production of CATS combines all the romance of going to the circus with the spectacle of a full-scale musical theatre event.
- 11 December 1999
- Endeavour Sports High School, From Wednesday 1 March 2000
- St. Ives Showground, From Wednesday 8 March 2000
- Panthers World of Entertainment, From Wednesday 15 March 2000
- Parramatta Park, From Wednesday 22 March 2000
- Dubbo Showgrounds, From Wednesday 5 April 2000
- Moss Vale Showgrounds, From Wednesday 12 April 2000
- Lakeside Arena, Acton Park, From Wednesday 19 April 2000
- West Port Reserve, From Wednesday 17 May 2000
- Coffs Jetty Foreshore, From Wednesday 24 May 2000
- Davidson Oval, Lismore Park, From Wednesday 31 May 2000
- Samuel Sherlock Reserve, Frankston, VIC, 3 January 2001
- Ampitheatre, Gateway Island, Wodonga, VIC, 10 January 2001
- Bolton Park, Wagga Wagga, NSW, 17 January 2001
- Aerodrome Ovals, Mildura, VIC, 24 January 2001
- Weroona Oval, Bendigo, VIC, 31 January 2001
- North Gardens, Ballarat, VIC, 7 February 2001
- Vansittart Park, Mt Gambier, SA, 14 February 2001
- Harris Street Reserve, Warrnambool, VIC, 21 February 2001
The cast was comparatively large. The ensemble consisted of 28 cats, including Electra, Victor, Jemima, Quaxo and Admetus as chorus kittens/acrobats (while Sillabub, Mistoffelees and Plato also existed as main cast roles).