The musical Cats was based on a book of children’s poems by T.S. Eliot called Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats (1939), a series of sketches of different cats named Macavity, Mungojerrie, Rumpelteazer, Jennyanydots, Rum Tum Tugger, and Grizabella.
The musical had one of the most expensive production designs ever assembled; it had no plot; all the characters were cats; and the lyrics were written by one of the more difficult poets of the 20th century. Most people in the theater industry thought it would be a huge flop. Andrew Lloyd Webber, who wrote the music, had to mortgage his own house to get the project off the ground.
But it went on to become the longest-running musical in history, with 7,485 performances in New York City and 8,949 performances in London. It is estimated that Cats has been seen by more than 50 million people in 30 countries.