Cats to take final miaow on Moscow stage

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MOSCOW, March 20 (RIA Novosti) - The curtain will come down March 31 on legendary musical Cats, which has been running in Moscow for more than a year.

Andrew Lloyd-Webber's showpiece was the first musical to be performed seven days a week, 365 days a year in the Russian capital. Some 300,000 spectators are estimated to have enjoyed the feline frolics.

During the run at Moscow Youth Palace, actors have made 23,000 costume changes and worn out 600 pairs of shoes. The stage surface has had to be renovated eight times. Organizers said they had got through 200 liters (53 gallons) of paint to decorate the dancing shoes, and that 400 makeup brushes and 100 packs of mascara had been used up.

Producer Dmitry Bogachyov said the show was the first musical for 50% of spectators, indicating the rising popularity of the genre in Russia, despite some skeptical opinions.

The forty people involved in the performance are both celebrated actors and unknown talents drawn from all over the country. However, they "all deserve the proud title of world musical actors," Bogachyov said.

After the last performance in Moscow, the Stage Entertainment company will prepare to start running the musical in the Netherlands in fall 2006, while Moscow will begin arrangements for another imported musical, Mamma Mia!, based on songs by ABBA.

Unlike its predecessor, Chicago, which was a complete failure in Moscow, Cats sales "did not disappoint the producers," but did not bring in massive profits either, Bogachyov said.

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