CONTACT: WINSTON BARCLAY
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0073; fax (319) 384-0024
Release: Nov. 19, 1999
(NOTE TO EDITORS: Accompanying this release is a sidebar
about a group of statewide interactive educational workshops at Hancher featuring
the "Cats" cast and crew on the Iowa Communications Network. More
than 50 schools in all parts of Iowa have already signed up to participate
in the most ambitious ICN program ever staged at Hancher.)
'Cats,' history's longest-running musical, returns
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Andrew Lloyd Webbers "Cats,"
the longest-running musical in history both on Broadway and on tour, will
return to the University of Iowa Hancher Auditorium for eight holiday-season
performances -- at 8 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, Dec. 7-10, and at 2 p.m.
and 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 11 and 12.
Based on poet T.S. Eliots "Old Possums
Book of Practical Cats," "Cats" has become the most popular
family musical of all time, treasured for its memorable music, remarkable
feline costumes, spectacular special effects and high-energy Broadway dancing.
The productions awards include the Laurence Olivier and the Evening
Standard Award for Best Musical in London and seven Tony Awards in New York.
John Simon wrote in New York magazine, "You will
enjoy scenic effects to elate you, stage (and auditorium) movement to keep
your eyeballs rolling every which way, talented players galore to thrill you,
and sundry cunning devices to keep you eagerly expectant, with your expectations
almost always astonishingly gratified. There is something for everyone --
even dog lovers -- in Cats: a kind of whiskered Disneyland full
of sound and furry. You cannot help experiencing surges of childish jubilance,
as cleverness after sleek cleverness rubs against your shins!"
Linda Winer predicted in USA Today, "Cats
probably will run forever!" And so far she has been right. "Cats"
has been a fixture at the Winter Garden Theatre on Broadway since 1982. When
"Cats" broke the Broadway record in mid-1997, a New York Times headline
proclaimed "Cats" the show "with 6,138 lives." Five months
later in Minneapolis, the Fourth National Touring Company surpassed the original
tour of "Oklahoma" to become the longest-running tour in history.
The combined tours of "Cats" had surpassed the record for longest-touring
show several years before.
In 1989 the original production of "Cats"
in London became the longest-running musical in the history of British theater,
surpassing Lloyd Webbers own "Jesus Christ Superstar."
"Cats" tours have visited more than 250
cities worldwide, and Iowa City is one of more than 160 cities in the United
States and Canada that have hosted the show more than once. Tour attendance
of "Cats" has now surpassed 10 million in North America alone. In
addition, the show-stopping song "Memory" has now been recorded
by nearly 200 artists.
Nearly forgotten in all the record-setting success
is the fact that "Cats" began as a daring venture, both artistically
and financially. The idea to turn T.S. Eliots book of verse "Old
Possums Book of Practical Cats" into a musical occurred to Lloyd
Webber in 1972 when he picked the book up in an airport bookshop. Reading
it in-flight, he recalled that as a child his mother used to read these poems
to him and the thought occurred that "they might make a lovely album
for Children . . . or something."
But a full decade passed before the project was even
seriously explored. Setting poems by a serious, intellectual poet was considered
an odd choice for a pop musical. Investors were difficult to attract, and
failure was predicted. "We had almost everything going against us,"
Lloyd Webber says.
Lloyd Webber recalls being warned early in development
of the production that half the world loathes cats, to which he replied, "I
would be happy to play to half the world." He hasnt quite reached
that mark yet, but total worldwide attendance is now more than 60 million.
Tickets for "Cats" are $49, $45 and $40.
UI students and senior citizens qualify for a
20-percent discount, and tickets for children 17 and younger
are half price. Tickets are still available for all performances, but the
best selection of seats is available for the Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday
and Sunday evening performances.
Hancher box office hours are 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. weekdays,
and 1 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday. From the local calling area or outside Iowa, dial
(319) 335-1160. Long distance within Iowa and western Illinois is toll-free,
1-800-HANCHER. Fax to (319) 353-2284. Orders may be charged to VISA, MasterCard
or American Express. UI students may charge their purchases to their university
bills, and UI faculty and staff may select the option of payroll deduction.
People with special needs for access, seating and
auxiliary services should dial (319) 335-1158. This
number will be answered by box office personnel prepared to offer assistance
with handicapped parking, wheelchair access and seating, hearing augmentation
and other services. The line is equipped with TDD for people with hearing
impairment who use that technology.
Audio description for audience members with visual
impairment will be available at the 8 p.m. performance
on Dec. 11 and the 2 p.m. performance on Dec. 12.
The Coral Ridge Mall and the City Plaza Hotel-Iowa
City are the major local corporate sponsors of "Cats," through the
University of Iowa Foundation, with additional media support from the Gazette.
More information about "Cats" is available
at the shows World Wide Web site: <http://www.reallyuseful.com>.
For information on all UI arts events, visit <http://www.uiowa.edu/~uiowacr>.