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'Jellicle Ball' rolls into civic center

The jellicle ball is coming to Rochester March 14, when the national touring production of "Cats" stops at Mayo Civic Center.

The show, produced by Troika Entertainment, features the same choreography and design as the long-running Broadway production.

"Cats," with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, is based on T.S. Elliot's "Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats." The action takes place in a junkyard, where the "jellicle" cats gather for a ball. As the evening progresses, the audience is given a peek at the cats' society. Through song, dance and stories, the personalities of the various cats are revealed.

The show's most famous song is "Memory," a Top 40 hit for Barry Manilow. Ironically, the song almost didn't make the final cut. "Memory" is based on previously unpublished Elliot material, and three writers failed to come up with an acceptable lyric. Finally, Trevor Nunn, the show's original director, wrote the lyrics himself.

Other popular production numbers include "Mr. Mistoffeles," "Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer" and "The Jellicle Ball."

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Reviews of the current touring production have praised the "energetic" nature of the show, which features a young cast. The set, designed by John Napier, has also received plaudits. The junkyard items on stage are oversized, towering over the smaller cats. Napier also designed the cat costumes.

"Cats" opened May 11, 1981, in London's West End and ran until May 11, 2002, making it the longest-running musical in the history of British theater. The show opened in 1982 in New York and ran until September 2000, making it also the longest-running musical on Broadway. "Cats" won seven Tony Awards in 1983, including Best Musical and Best Costumes.

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