3 things we bet you didn’t know about CATS the Musical
Here are some purr-facts you need to know before you catch Andrew Lloyd Webber’s record-breaking musical in Singapore.
- December 2019
If your first encounter with CATS was the trailer for the upcoming movie starring Taylor Swift and Jennifer Hudson, it’s time for a proper orientation to one of the longest-running and most successful musicals of all time.
1. The musical CATS raised the bar for spectacle
A fully-sung production with humans dressed as Jellicle CATS and sing to T.S. Eliot’s poetry … it was such a crazy concept that Andrew Lloyd Webber had to take out a mortgage on his home to get CATS off the ground.
The production turned out to be an instant hit when it first opened. “The reason why people will hunger to see CATS [is simple and primal]: It’s a musical that transports the audience into a complete fantasy world that could only exist in the theater and yet, these days, only rarely does,” Frank Rich wrote in the New York Times review in 1982.
To this day, especially because modern audiences are jaded with CGI and special effects, CATS remains a glorious celebration of the magic of theatre. Audience interaction, a palpable energy and the fact that everything is live … it’s an immersive experience the big screen can’t replicate.
Book now to catch CATS the Musical in Singapore!
2. CATS’ iconic song “Memory” was inspired by a poem T.S. Eliot never finished
Most of the musical’s lyrics were inspired by T.S. Eliot’s book of poems Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, and “Memory” was from a half-finished poem that Webber found in Eliot’s notes and letters. Turns out Eliot had left it out in the final book as he thought it might be too melancholy for children. Webber, on the other hand, appreciated its dramatic power and that’s how the musical’s most famous song came to be. “Memory” has since been recorded by over 150 artists including Barbra Streisand and Barry Manilow.
3. The original Broadway production used over 1,000kg of yak hair
Transforming people into cats is no easy feat, and one of the most impressive features of CATS is the elaborate costumes. Each and every wig is bespoke — it must fit the specific performer perfectly so he or she is able to move, jump and dance freely. In the original Broadway production, over 1,000kg of yak hair was used to produce the wigs.
In the upcoming production playing in Singapore, there are a total of 116 wigs, with each taking an average of 35 hours to make. And that’s just part of the transformation — the production uses 226 elaborate costumes (and has another 180 in stock)!