'Cats' returns at new Perelman Center, a $500 million building in downtown Manhattan

Perelman Performing Arts Center is seen before a news conference is held to announce the center's inaugural season events calendar, Wednesday, June 14, 2023, in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Andrew Lloyd Webber's absence from New York City's stages will be at most 14 months, with "Cats" returning in June 2024 at the World Trade Center's new Perelman Performing Arts Center.

The $500 million building, the next-to-last element of the World Trade Center redevelopment to open following the 2001 terrorist attacks, announced its inaugural season Wednesday.

"Cats" will appear in June and July 2024 directed by Zhailon Levingston and Bill Rauch, with choreography by Arturo Lyons and Omari Wiles.

Members of the cast of the Andrew Lloyd Webber Broadway musical, Cats, perform at Tony Awards. (Getty Images)

The musical will have reimagined staging set in Harlem’s drag Ballroom Culture. Bill Rauch, PAC's artistic director, said Ballroom Culture will come across in the casting, staging and design.

Lloyd Webber's "The Phantom of the Opera" closed on April 16 at the Majestic Theater after 13,981 performances, leaving the legendary composer with no shows on Broadway for the first time since 1979. The original "Cats" production ran for 7,485 performances from 1982-2000, and a revival in 2016-17 ran for 593.

(Photo by Robert Alexander/Getty Images)

The PAC is to open with a ribbon-cutting on Sept. 13. A five-night opening called "A Concert Series to Welcome the World," with pay-as-you-wish seating, begins Sept. 19 with "NYC Tapestry: Home as Refuge" that includes Laurie Anderson, Raven Chacon, Natalie Diaz and Angélique Kidjo, among others.

"Watch Night," a multidisciplinary piece composed by Tamar-kali, co-conceived, directed and choreographed by Bill T. Jones, runs from Nov. 3-18 and melds spirituals, opera and poetry. Luna Pearl Woolf's "Number Our Days" a multimedia oratorio, runs from April 12-14. "An American Soldier," the Huang Ruo opera that premiered at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., in 2014, gets its New York premiere from May 12-19.

Among theater options, Laurence Fishburne premieres a one-man show "Like They Do in The Movies" from March 10-31. An evening with Brian Stokes Mitchell is scheduled for Oct. 5 and Anthony Roth Costanzo has a cabaret show Dec. 20.

The PAC is clad in translucent, veined Portuguese marble that creates amber light in the day and glows at night. It features three performance spaces that can be used separately or combined: the John E. Zuccotti Theater (seating 450), the Mike Nichols Theater (250), and the Doris Duke Foundation Theater (99).

With proscenium, thrust and in-the-round formations, there are 60 stage-audience arrangements of 90-950 seats. The space, launched with a $75 million gift from Ronald Perelman in 2016, includes a restaurant led by chef Marcus Samuelsson and designed by David Rockwell and the Rockwell Group. A lobby stage is open to the public for free performances.

The flexible space is similar but different from The Shed, which opened in 2019 at the Hudson Yards Development, and the Park Avenue Armory, which has presented arts programming since 2007.

"The Shed and the Armory work perfectly for big things," said PAC chairman Mike Bloomberg, the former New York City mayor, who contributed $130 million. 

"This, the scale is different. You can have a 20-person audience and a 20-person performance, and you can do that here. Number two, it is to some extent a different audience. This is downtown, that's midtown. Lots of places to go midtown. Love ‘em all. Supported them all, probably. Visited them all. Go to them all. But downtown has never really had a lot of that. And if you think about it, you’ve got the Staten Island Ferry, you've got subways from four boroughs coming over, you've got the PATH tube from New Jersey. People can get here."

The last building of the redevelopment, 2 World Trade Center, is projected to open in 2027.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.