- Audio CD (December 7, 1993)
- Original Release Date: 1993
- Number of Discs: 2
- Format: Cast Recording
- Label: Verve
- ASIN: B000001E3P
- Average Customer Review: 135 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #55,919 in CDs & Vinyl (See Top 100 in CDs & Vinyl)
Cats 1982 Original Broadway Cast
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Andrew Lloyd Webber's adaptation of T.S. Eliot's poems may not have become Broadway's longest-running musical without the original cast to begin the raves. Which is why every aficionado of this theatrical classic will tell you that this is the one you have to own (although they'll probably tell you that you need the import Original London Cast album as well, the show having originated on London's West End and all). But this is the one with Betty Buckley singing "Memory"--the song that turned her into a star--and the two discs are appropriate for the musical that helped set off Broadway's "operatic" phase. The show is now also available--in its entirety--as a home video, but the music still stands on its own, though some cynics have wondered why so much music only produced one hit standard. --Bill Holdship
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This fine performance boosts the stalwart Betty Buckley as Grizabella. Buckley is able to adopt the right kind of gorgeous voice in her portrayal of the fallen glamour cat, and she really is able to use this to great effect with her rendition of Memory. Elaine Paige may be regarded as the foremost interpreter of the role, but here Buckley is able to prove that she can hold her own against her arch-rival from the original London cast. Ken Page's portrayal of Old Deuteronomy is on the same high plain as Buckley's Grizabella, as he uses his sonorous voice to great effect in his solos. In particular, he gives a firm and commanding performance of The Ad-Dressing of Cats, and is warm, open and expansive. The rest of the cast is no less strong, especially the lower-level principals Timothy Scott, Harry Groener and Terrence Mann. Timothy Scott does a splendid job not only in his standout number but also when he sings Mungojerrie and Rumpelteazer, and Terrence Mann sings his Rum Tum Tugger passages (Mistoffelees and his standout number) with gusto and panache, and a tenderness during Old Deut's Theme. Anyway, they both characterise their cat characters with as much slickness as you could hope for. But special mention should also go to Harry Groener's Munkustrap, who can hold his own with Michael Gruber due to his immediacy, warmth and engaging nature.
The rest of the cast proves that it is as strong as the major cast. All the cats prove that they can shine not only individually but also as a group, except for a small number that I will not mention here. Anna McNeely's Jennyanydots, Bonnie Simmons' Jellylorum and Donna King's Bombalurina all show each cat shining vocally in this fine musical, and the choral contributions from all the cats are done with fervour and energy. But perhaps the standout cat is Stephen Hanan as Bustopher Jones and Gus: the Theatre Cat. His Bustopher Jones has an astute and truly aristocratic air about it, and his Gus and Growltiger are both superbly done. Gus has a melancholic air about him when Hanan relishes the nostalgaic past of Gus when he sings his passages. And his Growltiger is particularly fearsome and ferocious, with a laugh that could rival Satan and a powerful operatic voice in the Italian opera parody. The supporting orchestral accompaniment is nicely done too, and Stanley Lebowsky adopts near-perfect tempi that could perhaps have a little bit more spring and be a little more sprightly in some points.
Like the London recording, this CATS recording omits The Pekes and the Pollicles due to the need to accomodate space on record.
On the whole, I find this CATS recording an enjoyable experience and I feel more than prepared to recommend it to anyone who is just venturing out into the score. The nicely-done booklet contains a cast list, credits and an adequately-produced libretto. For those who don't want to spend too much money on this 2-CD set, there is also an abridged version available. But, I would say that because the music is so infectuous, this 2-CD set is rather compulsive.