Cats—whether you’re talking about the household pet or the legendary Broadway musical—are polarizing. People either seem to love the deliberate aloofness of four-legged felines or wonder, “Why bother?”
Over the years, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 1981 musical based on T.S. Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats has become a parody of itself. (A Saturday Night Live commercial parody dating back to 1986 helped spawn the phrase, “I laughed, I cried, it was better than CATS.”) But one can’t deny the impact of a show that swept the 1983 Tony Awards with 10 nominations and 7 wins including Best Musical. With 7,485 performances, the original production still ranks as the fourth longest-running show of all time.