Once upon a time, Cats was the biggest thing on Broadway. After a successful debut in London, the musical opened in New York in October 1982 and became an instant sensation. It won seven Tony Awards the following year and in time became the longest running show on Broadway, eventually concluding its run in September 2000. A new production is scheduled to return to Broadway this summer, with previews set to begin July 14.
Thus, this may be the ideal time for news that a big-screen version is finally moving forward. Tom Hooper, who won an Academy Award for The King's Speech (top, center), will direct the adaptation, according to Variety. Hooper will also serve as one of the producers for the project, teaming again with Universal and Working Title. The filmmaker and the companies previously joined forces for Les Misérables, another big-screen version of a stage musical; it won three Academy Awards.
The original Broadway show was composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber, based on a collection of poetry by T.S. Eliot titled Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats. The plot, such as it is, revolves around a tribe of cats "who must decide nightly which one will ascend to the Heaviside Layer and come back to a new life." Undoubtedly, one song stood out from the production, here sung by Delta Goodrem from the recent London revival.
How will Hooper and company transform the stage-bound musical into a feature film? For Les Misérables, Victor Hugo's original novel informed the dramatization, but Cats doesn't have the benefit of that kind of historical setting. Will Cats, therefore, become a pure fantasy?
We'll have to wait to find out what the filmmakers have in mind. Until then, here's a video of the 1983 Tony Awards show, which features two songs from the musical — including original cast member Betty Buckley's version of "Memory" — and an award presentation.