The story of Memory begins with the idea for Cats, back in 1977. In that year Andrew Lloyd Webber picked up a copy of T.S Eliot's book of poems -- poems that his mother had read to him as a child.
Lloyd Webber's usual way of working was first to create a melody and then add lyrics. But he was curious if he could work the process the other way around. He wanted to compose melodies for the words of these Eliot poems that he loved and turn them into song.
T.S Eliot's widow, Valerie, gave Trevor Nunn and Cameron Mackintosh (director and producer for the project) some manuscripts of extra materials her husband had written. These were poems and fragments that hadn't been included in the original book.
The main inspiration for Cats came with the discovery of one particular poem fragment called "Grizabella the Glamour Cat". There were only eight lines, but that was enough inspiration for the team to create the show's entire storyline.
Two weeks before the 11 May opening, Lloyd Webber was concerned that the new show lacked a big hit song. So for this one song, Lloyd Webber went back to his normal habit and wrote the melody first, before a lyric was created.
Trevor Nunn then produced a lyric, based on T.S Eliot's poem "Rhapsody on a Windy Night" and the song Memory, sung by Grizabella the Glamour Cat, came to life -- just barely in time for opening night.
As audience response soon proved, Cats most definitely had its hit song!
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Sally Fletcher, harpist
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© 2008 Heavenly Music for Earthly Events