A film adaptation directed by Tom Hooper for Universal Pictures and Working Title Films is scheduled to premiere on 20 December 2019. The film will star Jennifer Hudson as Grizabella, Taylor Swift as Bombalurina, James Corden as Bustopher Jones, Judi Dench as Old Deuteronomy, Jason Derulo as Rum Tum Tugger, Idris Elba as Macavity, Ian McKellen as Gus, Rebel Wilson as Jennyanydots and Francesca Hayward as Victoria.
Following its Broadway debut, Cats has been staged extensively across North America. The first US national tour, Cats National I, launched at the Shubert Theatre in Boston in December 1983 and closed in November 1987. The opening night cast included Laurie Beechman playing Grizabella and Charlotte d'Amboise playing Cassandra; later replacements included Victoria Clark and Jessica Molaskey both playing Jellylorum/Griddlebone. This production was a "slow tour" that had lengthy engagements lasting for several months in each of the nine cities it visited. Cats National II, a separate sit-down production at the Los Angeles Shubert Theatre, ran from January 1985 to November 1986, and starred Kim Criswell and George de la Peña in the roles of Grizabella and Mistoffelees respectively. A third US touring company, Cats National III, ran for two years from September 1986 to September 1988. Notable performers in the third tour included Jonathan Cerullo as Skimbleshanks (1986) and Bill Nolte as Old Deuteronomy (1987).
Cats is completely told through music with no dialogue in between the songs, although there are occasions when the music accompanies spoken verse. Lloyd Webber's compositions employ an eclectic range of musical styles so as to magnify the characters' contrasting personalities. For example, the rebellious Rum Tum Tugger is introduced with a rock song ("The Rum Tum Tugger"); the fallen Grizabella is accompanied by a dramatic operatic aria ("Grizabella: The Glamour Cat"); Old Deuteronomy makes his grand entrance to a lullaby-turned-anthem ("Old Deuteronomy"); and Gus' nostalgia for the past is reflected through an old-fashioned music hall number ("Gus: The Theatre Cat"). Many of the songs are pastiches of their respective genres, which Snelson attributes to the show's origins as a song cycle:
The musical also features an unusual amount of "group-description" numbers. According to musicologist Jessica Sternfeld, such numbers are usually relegated to the prologue and nothing more, as seen in "Another Op'nin', Another Show" from Kiss Me, Kate and "Tradition" from Fiddler on the Roof. Cats on the other hand features four Jellicle-defining songs: "Jellicle Songs for Jellicle Cats", "The Naming of Cats", "The Jellicle Ball" and "The Ad-Dressing of Cats". These numbers allow the cats to celebrate their tribe and species as a whole, in between the ones that celebrate individual members.
Napier began designing the set in November 1980, wanting "a place where cats might congregate together, which also included maximum room for dancing". The set of Cats consists of a junkyard filled with oversized props to give the illusion that the cast are the size of actual cats; it remains the same throughout the show without any scene changes. Over 2,500 of these scaled-up props were used to fill the whole auditorium in the original Broadway production.
Cats is based on T. S. Eliot's 1939 poetry book Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats, with the songs in the musical consisting of Eliot's verse set to music by Andrew Lloyd Webber. The musical is unusual in terms of its construction; along with Eliot's poems, music and dance are the main focus of the show at the expense of a traditional narrative structure. Musicologists William Everett and Paul Laird described Cats as "combining elements of the revue and concept musical". The plot centres on a tribe of cats called the Jellicles, as they come together at the annual Jellicle Ball to decide which one of them will ascend to the Heaviside Layer (their version of heaven) and be reborn into a new life. The bulk of the musical consists of the different contenders being introduced, either by themselves or by other cats.
"It was the custom to burn a basket, barrel, or sack full of live cats, which was hung from a tall mast in the midst of the bonfire; sometimes a fox was burned. The people collected the embers and ashes of the fire and took them home, believing that they brought good luck. The French kings often witnessed these spectacles and even lit the bonfire with their own hands. In 1648 Louis XIV, crowned with a wreath of roses and carrying a bunch of roses in his hand, kindled the fire, danced at it and partook of the banquet afterwards in the town hall. But this was the last occasion when a monarch presided at the midsummer bonfire in Paris. At Metz midsummer fires were lighted with great pomp on the esplanade, and a dozen cats, enclosed in wicker cages, were burned alive in them, to the amusement of the people. Similarly at Gap, in the department of the Hautes-Alpes, cats used to be roasted over the midsummer bonfire."
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The scientific name Felis catus for the domestic cat was proposed by Carl Linnaeus in the 10th edition of Systema Naturae published in 1758. Felis catus domesticus was a scientific name proposed by Johann Christian Polycarp Erxleben in 1777. Felis daemon proposed by Konstantin Alekseevich Satunin in 1904 was a black cat specimen from the Transcaucasus, later identified as a domestic cat.