Taylor Swift will be landing a role in a film version of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s stage musical Cats.
She is set to join Oscar-winner Jennifer Hudson, who will play Grizabella – the glamourpuss, all alone in the moonlight – in the cinema version of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical Cats.
It will be directed by Tom Hooper — who made the picture of Les Miserables and won an Academy Award for The King’s Speech.
Meow: Taylor Swift will be landing a role in a film version of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s stage musical Cats; seen in mid June in Ireland
Something to purr about: The musical Cats has been a hit on Broadway and in other major cities for decades
A proper, big-time film based on the landmark musical has been on the minds of men (and moggies) ever since the show, based on T. S. Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book Of Practical Cats, opened in the West End in 1981.
Lloyd Webber and director Trevor Nunn wove together a story from a series of poems Eliot wrote to entertain his godchildren.
The poems were read on a BBC radio broadcast in 1937 and published on the eve of war in 1939, becoming a bestselling collection.
She has a thing for cats: Swift has made her fuzzy friends the highlight of her Instagram page
Steven Spielberg wanted to turn Cats into a Hollywood blockbuster three decades ago, but he and his collaborators couldn’t figure out how to make it work.
Now he’s billed as an executive producer (though not with a hands-on role) of the film, which will have the actors wearing feline costumes — albeit different from the ones worn on stage.
Director Hooper has spent close to two years working with a team of designers and technical wizards to come up with an innovative form of computer-generated imagery (CGI) that he’ll fuse with live footage. The exact methods are being closely guarded, for now.
A golden role for her: Oscar-winner Jennifer Hudson should be the cat’s whiskers as Grizabella the glamourpuss; seen in January
So many claws: The cast of Cats all lined up during a 2017 US tour
However, Hooper’s innovations have won the approval of film titans Eric Fellner and Tim Bevan, who run the London-based studio Working Title, and their close colleague, producer Debra Hayward, who oversaw the day-to-day production of Les Miserables.
Dancers and singers for dance sequences (I’m told it’s an ‘all-singing, all-dancing’ extravaganza) are being auditioned and begin rehearsing the mammoth production numbers with choreographer Wayne McGregor next month.
Star cast members will rehearse later and join them in time for Hooper to roll his cameras at Leavesden Studios in Hertfordshire in November.
Maestro Lloyd Webber has been working closely with Hooper and his associates and will orchestrate his score for the film. Plus (as I reported back in January) he has written a new number that will be sung by perky white kitten Victoria.
Billy Elliot writer Lee Hall has penned the screenplay using Eliot’s tales of ‘Jellicle cats’ who gather in a junkyard ruled by cat deity Old Deuteronomy.
The centrepiece puss is Grizabella, a haunted figure who’s seen better days. Eliot never published the Grizabella tale, believing it to be too sad for young readers. Eliot’s widow Valerie gave Lloyd Webber and Nunn the unpublished Grizabella verses when they were putting Cats together.
He may be on board as well: Ian McKellen (pictured) is also being measured up for catsuits for the movie; seen in 2017
Nunn wrote the lyrics for the mega-song that is Memory, sung by Grizabella, using material from Eliot’s poems Rhapsody On A Windy Night and Preludes. Judi Dench was cast to play Grizabella in the original production, but had to withdraw when her Achilles tendon snapped during dance rehearsals overseen by legendary choreographer Gillian Lynne, who is often credited with setting off a dance revolution, thanks to her work on Cats.
So it was left to Elaine Paige to create the role at the New London. (The theatre was renamed in Gillian Lynne’s honour just four weeks ago, at a ceremony hosted by Lloyd Webber and Cameron Mackintosh, which Lynne attended. She passed away a few days later, aged 92.)
Eliot’s tale features a variety of cats: tabby, marmalade, ginger and Siamese, delighting in names such as The Rum Tum Tugger, tricky Mr Mistoffelees, Macavity the mystery cat, Gus the theatre cat (I’m guessing McKellen might play him, if he’s confirmed for the film), Bustopher Jones the cat about town and The Old Gumbie Cat, Jennyanydots.
Casting for stars to play those felines continues in London, Hollywood and New York and a clowder of real furry creatures will be on standby for certain scenes.
Hooper’s team of production designer Eve Stewart, director of photography Danny Cohen and costume designer Paco Delgado have already been busy on various test shoots to see how Cats will move and groove.