Arts News

‘Cats’ Has More than Nine Lives

Broadway Across America is a premiere promoter and producer of live theatrical tours; and each year, for over 25 years, has entertained and enlightened millions of people. The 2008–09 season of Broadway Across America–Utah includes the highly-anticipated Wicked and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Opening their incredible season is Cats, the national tour commissioned by its composer Andrew Lloyd Webber.



This large and extravagant stage production has amazed and entertained audiences worldwide since opening in London in 1981. Its Broadway premiere took place one year later, then in 1997 it became the longest running Broadway musical with over 6,000 performances. Not until 2006 was Cats knocked off its scratching post by The Phantom of the Opera, another musical composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber.

Based on Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, a collection of poems by T.S. Eliot, the musical is a feline montage of The Wizard of Oz, Cinderella and West Side Story.

The Jellicle Cat tribe reunites each year in celebration of their heritage. And as cats apparently have nine lives, they also appear to have three names: a family name used daily, a more distinguished name and a secret name (perhaps this is why many of the names are tongue-twisters: Mungojerrie, Jellylorum and Coricopat to name just a few). The tribe rejoices by throwing a Ball (not swatting one) and their leader Old Deuteronomy names the cats to be reborn into a new life.

Unfortunately, a mischievous and villianous cat named Macavity threatens the Jellicle Cats’ celebration by catnapping Old Deuteronomy. Disguised as his nemesis, Macavity joins the Jellicle Cats in their celebration until eventaully exposed and a catfight (rumble) ensues. Macavity escapes with only a few scratches and then Mr. Mistoffelees, the conjuring cat, is called in to use his magical powers in finding Old Deuteronomy.

There are over 30 cats introduced on stage. From Rum Tum Tugger, a vain cat with the attraction of all the female felines … to Munkustrap, a black and silver tom who is storyteller and protector of the Jellicle tribe … to Skimbleshanks, an active orange tabby who lives on the trains … there is a diverse synergy among all of them.

In this national tour, cast members average 20 years of age and play more than one role, which in many cases is very challenging; yet if done sufficiently, can be quite satisfying for the audience … like cats and catnip.

Cats runs Sept. 16–21 at Capitol Theatre, 50 W. 200 South. Tickets $30–57.50, 355-ARTS or arttix.org.

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