CULTURE

Lloyd Webber’s ‘Cats’ is finally coming to town

It is the night of the annual dance of the Jellicle Cats, in a garbage dump, and their leader, old Deuteronomy, will announce the name of the cat which is to be reborn and live a new life. The announcement is to take place at dawn and, until then, the cats are having a little bit of fun… That is the brief outline of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s celebrated musical «Cats,» the longest-running performance of its kind in both London and New York. In about two months, the legendary production is scheduled to come to Athens in its original form and composition, as it has been staged all over the world. As of March 21, the «Cats» show will be performed at the badminton court of the Goudi Olympic Complex, which will be transformed to cater to the needs of such a large production. «Cats» features innovative – at the time of its conception, at least – choreography, striking sets and costumes and the well-known music – everyone has, more or less, sung the lyrics of «Memory.» At the same time, it also offers a simple, yet internationally applicable, story about the need for acceptance. No wonder then that it has over the years charmed millions of people throughout the world, gaining die-hard fans. ‘Old Possum’ The story is based on T.S. Eliot’s collection of poems «Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats» (available in Greek in a translation by Pavlina Pamboudi and Yiannis Zervas, published by Agra). In 1977, Andrew Lloyd Webber started to melodize Eliot’s poems, not only because the collection had been one of his favorite childhood books but also because he wanted to experiment by setting an existing text to music. The musical’s premiere was held in London on May 11, 1981. Since then, the production can count 21 years at the West End (where it was staged until May 21, 2001), 19 years on Broadway, as well as innumerable performances in 26 countries, in more than 300 cities and in front of more than 50 million spectators. At a recent press conference held in Athens, the organizers described the musical’s arrival in the city as a dream come true – for three years they had been trying to come up with solutions, concerning, above all, an appropriate venue capable of hosting a production of such caliber. Thankfully, the new forums created by the Olympic Games complexes have made it possible to book many large shows, as was the case with «Cats.» «The company that will come to Greece is the same company that has been touring the world. It consists of about 100 people, including the orchestra which will play live music in a specially designed area behind the stage,» said Paul Griffin, responsible for the Greek production of «Cats,» at the press conference. «If you want to talk in numbers,» he continued, «the stage sets alone consist of 1,200 different bits. About 20 containers will be needed in order to transfer all the equipment to Athens. The venue will change entirely, while 2,500 seats have been ordered from Germany especially for the show.» The Athens premiere will take place on March 21 and performances will be held daily until April 23. Tickets are already available, as of January 10, and prices range from 25 to 65 euros. For information and ticket reservations, call 210.884.0600.