The naming of cats is a difficult matter. Still, it’s worth keeping track as Grizabella, Mister Mistoffelees, and more jellicles ready for the close-ups.
Yes, Cats is clawing its way to movie theatres with Les Misérables director Tom Hooper at the helm. A host of stars are already tapped to appear in the Working Title film adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber and T.S. Eliot’s feline phenomenon, but several details are being kept under wraps.
Here’s what we do know so far.
What’s a jellicle cat?
Good question! Jellicles do and jellicles can, jellicles can and jellicles do, jellicle cats sing jellicle chants, jellicles old and jellicles new. Does that help?
When is Cats coming out?
The Hooper-directed film is slated to premiere December 20, 2019, with production beginning later this year. The release date was previously held for another Universal movie musical: the film adaptation of Wicked (which has since been pushed back).
Who’s in it?
The ever-growing cast includes Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson, pop star Taylor Swfit, stage and screen veteran Ian McKellen, Tony winner James Corden, star of TNT’s Will Laurie Davidson, choreographer Mette Towley, Golden Globe winner Idris Elba, Tony and Oscar winner Judi Dench, R&B and pop star Jason Derulo, Pitch Perfect star Rebel Wilson, and Royal Ballet's Francesca Hayward and Steven McRae.
Who are they playing?
Hudson, whose screen-stealing performance of “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” in the Dreamgirls movie led her to an Oscar, will belt out the show’s breakout ballad “Memory” as Grizabella the Glamour Cat. Meanwhile, McKellen says he’s brushing up his singing chops to play Gus the Theatre Cat, Towley will reportedly play Jemima (who briefly duets with Grizabella on "Memory"), and Lloyd Webber recently revealed that Swift will play either Bombalurina or Demeter, the duo that leads the dangerously sultry “Macavity the Mystery Cat.” Elba will play the elusive subject of that very song. In a gender-bending twist, Dench (who was slated to play Grizabella in the original incarnation) will take the reins as Old Deuteronomy. Also confirmed are McRae as Skimbleshanks, Derulo as Rum Tum Tugger, and Wilson as Jennyanydots.
So Taylor Swift and Ian McKellen are really going to be in those furry cat suits?
Is there any other way to do Cats? Actually, we don’t know for sure yet, but considering Hamilton Tony winner Andy Blankenbuehler is attached (taking over for the previously reported Wayne McGregor) and an ensemble casting call was held earlier this summer, we can presume that yes, we will actually see some variation of those iconic (if slightly disturbing) feline-human hybrids.
I’ve worn out the cast recording. Are there going to be new songs?
Supposedly, yes. In January, it was reported that Lloyd Webber was at work on a new tune for Victoria, the graceful dancing white cat. The composer is no stranger to reworking his scores for the stage. In fact, he earned an Oscar for the Evita movie’s “You Must Love Me.”
Is this really happening?