The Past

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Cats is the longest running musical in London with more than six thousand shows and has been played all over the world.

Andrew Lloyd Webber and his friend Trevor Nunn, a director, describe the beginning of it like this:

The idea to turn the book Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats (by T.S. Eliot) into a musical came to Lloyd Webber in 1972 when he picked up the book at an airport. As he read it, he remembered that his mother used to read this to him.

Ten years later, he got his friend Trevor Nunn to help him turn the poetry book into a musical. When Nunn and Lloyd Webber went into a rehearsal, all they had were parts of songs, and they didn't have a story to support it.

However, Valerie Eliot (T. S. Eliot's widow) found an old sheet of paper with of eight lines about Grizabella. It was the very thing that could tie the whole show together.

As the opening night came closer, they was still worried. They wanted the show to have something that was very memorable, send the audience out humming.

That night, Lloyd Webber went home and - overnight - one of the theatre's most famous songs was made.

The song was "Memory" (of course!), but at the time, it hadn't any lyrics or anything. It was just a melody. They had a search for a lyricist who could make the song work and fit well with Eliot's lyrics that made up the rest of the show. Three lyricists tried and failed.

With just days to go, Nunn headed for his home to write the lyrics himself. He spent the entire weekend reading over and over Eliot's poems, but still had trouble. At last, Grizabella had an emotional outlet. She had left the tribe of Jellicle Cats to experience the outside world, remembers the hard times she had, the past forever lost and her desire to return to the tribe.

A smash in London, on Broadway and all over the world. Cats won seven Tony Awards, including the Best Musical. "Memory" has become a classic song and has been recorded more than six hundred times!

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