'Cats' Musical Wiki

The original London production of Cats opened in the West End on 11 May 1981, after previews which began on 22 April 1981. It won numerous awards, including the Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Musical. The production went on to run for exactly 21 years, closing on 11 May 2002 after playing 8,949 performances.

This production made Cats the longest running musical in the West End for over 17 years, from 12 May 1989 until 8 October 2006.

Creative Team

Original Team (1981)

Later members


Composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Cats is based on T S Eliot's Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats (1939), which the composer recalled as having been a childhood favourite. The songs of the musical comprise Eliot's verse set to music by the composer, the principal exception being the most famous song from the musical, "Memory ", for which the lyrics were written by director Trevor Nunn after an Eliot poem entitled "Rhapsody on a Windy Night". Additionally, a brief song entitled "The Moments of Happiness" was taken from a passage in Eliot's Four Quartets. Andrew Lloyd Webber began composing the songs in late 1977 and premiered the compositions at the Sydmonton Festival in 1980. The concert was attended by Eliot's wife, Valerie Eliot, who loved the songs that Webber had composed. She gave her blessing for the songs to be adapted into a musical stage play.

The New London Theatre (now re-named The Gillian Lynne)

Rehearsals for the musical began in March 1981 in London. Due to the Eliot estate asserting that they write no script and only use the original poems as the text,[1] the musical had no identified plot during the rehearsal process, causing many actors to be confused about what they were actually doing.[2] An unusual musical in terms of its construction, the overture incorporates a fugue and there are occasions when the music accompanies spoken verse. The show is completely told through music with virtually no spoken dialogue in between the songs. Dance is also a key element in the musical especially during the 10-minute "Jellicle Ball" dance sequence.

The set, consisting of an oversized junk yard, remains the same throughout the show without any scene changes. Lloyd Webber's eclecticism is very strong here; musical genres range from classical to pop, music hall, jazz, rock and electro-acoustic music as well as hymnal songs such as "The Ad-Dressing of Cats".

On 12 May 1989, Cats overtook Jesus Christ Superstar to become the longest-running musical in West End history with 3,358 performances. It closed on 11 May 2002 after playing 8,949 performances. The final performance was broadcast live on a large screen in Covent Garden for fans who could not acquire a ticket.


As the original production, the London production was very much experimental in nature. As can be seen from the original cast list, quite a few of the show's tracks (roles) were different - such as Mungojerrie playing Macavity (due to last minute cast changes), and Bustopher Jones being played by the same actor as Old Deuteronomy, not Gus as is convention now. Several songs have also been modified or replaced completely since the opening of this production; most notably, "Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer", originally a languid jazz number, has since been replaced by a more upbeat version seen in productions worldwide.

After its huge success, the show transferred to Broadway in 1982, where it was considerably overhauled, made brighter, more cheerful and family-friendly than the dark, exotic world created originally. Gradually, some of these changes filtered back to the London production, such as innovations in costume construction and revised arrangements and orchestrations. The London production served as the main influence on the video production, released in 1998. After the video production's release, further changes to the production were minimal; one of the biggest changes after that point was the character "George" being cut in 2001. The London production also notably introduced spoken dialogue in its later years so as to explain the story more clearly.


Original London Cast (in alphabetical order)

Character Performer
Kitten (Admetus) Steven Wayne
Alonzo / Rumpus Cat Roland Alexander
Asparagus / Growltiger Stephen Tate
Kitten (Bill Bailey) Peter Barry
Bombalurina Geraldine Gardner
Carbucketty David Baxter
Cassandra Seeta Indrani
Coricopat Donald Waugh
Demeter Sharon Lee-Hill
Kitten (Electra) Anita Pashley
Kitten (Etcetera) Julie Edmett
George John Chester
Grizabella Elaine Paige
Jellylorum / Griddlebone Susan Jane Tanner
Jemima Sarah Brightman
Jennyanydots Myra Sands
Mungojerrie / Macavity John Thornton
Munkustrap Jeff Shankley
Old Deuteronomy / Bustopher Jones Brian Blessed
Quaxo / Mistoffelees Wayne Sleep
Rumpleteazer Bonnie Langford
Rum Tum Tugger Paul Nicholas
Skimbleshanks Kenn Wells
Tantomile Femi Taylor
Victoria Finola Hughes
The Cats Chorus Nick Hamilton
Jeni Evans
Nicola Kimber
Stephen Hill

The original cast included Dame Judi Dench in the roles of Grizabella and Jennyanydots, and Les Saxon as Mungojerrie. It also included four unnamed characters credited as "The Kittens". These kittens would eventually be given the names Admetus, Bill Bailey, Electra, and Etcetera. Judi Dench suffered a snapped Achilles Tendon in rehearsals, and had to be replaced, at very short notice, by Elaine Paige. This all happened during a crucial development point in the show's rehearsals, resulting in changes such as Jennyanydots becoming a full character (presumably she would originally have appeared only for her song, much as Bustopher Jones does) played by Myra Sands. The costume design now recognised as Jennyanydots' basic, was originally labelled "Electra" as that was the name of the role Myra Sands was originally cast in, though this Electra is not the same as the eventual kitten character. At some point before opening night, John Thornton also replaced Les Saxon as Mungojerrie. Because John Thornton was originally slated to play Admetus / Macavity, the character of Admetus was cut and Mungojerrie became Macavity's double track instead. The name Admetus was later given to one of the kitten characters.

Further Cast Lists

For complete London Casts see here.

Final Cast, May 2002

Character Performer
Alonzo / Rumpus Cat Chris Jarvis
Bill Bailey Robert Foley
Bombalurina Alexis Owen Hobbs
Bustopher Jones / Gus / Growltiger Peter Polycarpou / Gareth Snook
Carbucketty Jye Frasca
Cassandra Tiffany Graves
Coricopat Oliver Tydman
Demeter Barbara King
Electra Julie Carlton
Etcetera Sarah Jane Honeywell
Grizabella Chrissie Hammond
Jellylorum / Griddlebone Louisa Shaw
Jemima Caroline Bagnall
Jennyanydots Susie Fenwick
Macavity / Admetus Kenny Linden
Mungojerrie Adrian Edmeades
Munkustrap Jack Rebaldi
Old Deuteronomy Junix Inocian
Quaxo / Mistoffelees Benjamin Tyrrell
Rumpleteazer Lynsey Britton
Rum Tum Tugger John Partridge
Skimbleshanks Ross Finnie
Tantomile Helen Harper
Victor Matthew Atwell
Victoria Sorrell Thomas
Alt. Old Deuteronomy Nicholas Pound
Standby Gus/Old Deuteronomy Carl Sanderson
Swings Clinton Brown
Stori James
Joe Ryan
Andrew Wright
Rebecca Louis
Summer V-Strallen
Kate Tydman
Emma Woods

Cast Recording


By Year

Extensive galleries available year by year

Promotional Images

New London Theatre

(See London Production/New London Theatre)



Awards and Nominations

Main article: Awards

1981 Laurence Olivier Awards

  • Best New Musical - Won
  • Outstanding Achievement in a Musical - Gillian Lynne - Won
  • Actor of the Year in a Musical - Brian Blessed - Nominated
  • Actor of the Year in a Musical - Wayne Sleep - Nominated
  • Designer of the Year - John Napier - Nominated
  • Director of the Year - Trevor Nunn - Nominated

1981 Evening Standard Theatre Awards

  • Best Musical - Won

1982 Ivor Novello Awards

  • Best British Musical - Won
  • Best Song Musically and Lyrically - Memory - Won

1983 Grammy Awards

  • Best Cast Show Album - OLC recording - Nominated


  • The premiere was interrupted by a bomb hoax.[3]


  1. "Nunn so thrilled as 'Cats' director", shine.cn (3 Aug. 2018).
  2. The Story of Musicals, BBC documentary (10 Jan. 2012).
  3. "The Making of Cats" by Andrew Lloyd Webber (2016)