“Cats” has finally returned to Broadway after closing almost 20 years ago. This revival of the long running Andrew Lloyd Webber play is hoping to cash in on a growing nostalgia for beloved musicals. For Webber, it may prove to be a return to popularity after a string of flops.
When it originally began, “Cats” was a groundbreaking achievement. The story took elements of famed author T.S. Eliot’s works and added popular songs including the best-selling single “Memory.” It would go on to become one of Broadway’s longest running shows. Today’s audiences have proved they may not be ready for the show’s return.
Theatre has substantially changed thanks to the arrival of the groundbreaking musical “Hamilton.” The Lin Manuel Miranda penned show’s exciting style has pushed a new tone and musicality that the original cast of “Cats” could hardly imagine when they were starting out. Many older shows that tried revivals during the “Hamilton” period played to empty seats or decreased ticket sales that left investors in the red.
To compensate for “Cats” older material and strong competition, producers sought out popular artists for major roles. Pop singer Leona Lewis was chosen to play the lead role of Grizabella. It seems like the perfect way to introduce this European singer to American audiences, while increasing ticket sales among foreign travelers already familiar with her work.