The original production opened at the New London Theatre, in the West End on 11 May 1981. On 29 January 1996, the London production of CATS celebrated its 6,141st performance and became the longest running musical in the history of West End theatre, a position it held until 8 October 2006 when it was surpassed by Les Miserables.
CATS closed in London on 11 May 2002. its 21st birthday, having notched up a staggering 8,950 performances.
CATS opened on Broadway at the Winter Garden Theatre on 7 October 1982, and continued to live up to its motto of playing "Now and Forever' until 10 September 2000, after 7,485 performances. On 19 June 1997, the show became the longest running musical on Broadway, but was surpassed on 9 January 2006 by The Phantom of the Opera.
Since its opening, CATS has been presented in twenty-six countries and over three hundred cities including Buenos Aires, Seoul, Helsinki and Singapore. Within two and a half years of the London opening, new productions in New York, Tokyo Budapest and Vienna appeared, and the first of four US touring productions hit the road.
CATS became the longest, continuously touring show in American theatre history. The four CATS US tours have thus far played a combined total of sixteen years and two months.
CATS has been translated into ten languages: Japanese, German, (three versions for Germany, Austria and Switzerland), Hungarian, Norwegian, Finnish, Dutch, Swedish, French, Spanish (two versions for Mexico and Argentina) and Italian. The Swiss production required a bilingual cast who performed in German and English on alternate nights.
There have been over 40 different productions of CATS around the world, including a Big Top tour in Australia.
The title of the show has never been translated — the Mexican producers took a survey as to whether the Mexican audience would like their production to be called Gatos — the response in favour of keeping the English original was unanimous.
The magnificent stage set is a rubbish dump, three times larger than life with about 1,500 pieces of props.
Memory has been recorded by a variety of over 150 artists ranging from Barbra Streisand and Johnny Mathis to Liberace. Barry Manilow's rendition was a top-40 hit in the U.S.
The Original London Cast Recording of CATS won the 1982 Grammy Award for Best Cast Album. The next year the Original Broadway won the same award.
And now, on July 24, 2010 Leah Salonga (Miss Saigon, Les Miserables, Flower Drum Song) will take on the role of Grizabella – the dilapidated jellicle who'll return on the night of the yearly Jellicle Ball to bid for the Heavyside Layer nomination., at the Cultural Center of the Philippines, Manila.
Sir Andrew, she's ready for her close-up!