Hit musical 'Cats' returns to NY after 16-year hiatus

A scene from the musical "Cats" which will return to Broadway at the Neil Simon Theatre (AFP Photo/Roslan Rahman)

New York (AFP) - Hit musical "Cats," one of the most celebrated theatrical productions of all time, is returning to New York after a 16-year hiatus on Broadway, its producers announced Thursday.

The musical, composed by Britain's Andrew Lloyd Webber and based on T.S. Eliot's "Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats" made its debut in London in 1981, before running for 7,485 performances for 18 years across the pond.

It is being revived at the Neil Simon Theatre, where preview performances will begin on July 14 and the official opening night is set for August 2.

"We are delighted to join together to bring Andrew Lloyd Webber's phenomenal musical back to Broadway," said co-producers The Shubert Organization and The Nederlander Organization in a joint statement.

The revival means that Lloyd Webber will have the rare distinction of having three musicals running simultaneously on Broadway in addition to "The Phantom of the Opera" and "School of Rock -- The Musical."

"Cats" is one of the longest-running shows in Broadway history. It has been put on in more than 30 countries, been translated into 15 languages and has been watched by more than 73 million people worldwide.

Originally directed by Britain's Trevor Nunn, "Cats" opened in the West End and went onto win seven Tony Awards in New York, including best musical. Both the original London and Broadway cast recordings won Grammy awards.

Its hit song "Memory" has been recorded by dozens of artists, including Barbra Streisand and Barry Manilow.

"Cats," which ran in New York from 1982 to 2000, was the longest-running musical in Broadway history until it was overtaken by Lloyd Webber's "Phantom" in 2006.