The musical features a group of cats — yes, played by humans in cat costumes — who decide which cat will ascend to the Heaviside Layer every year

 

By Sophie T. Stern
November 20, 2018 11:00 AM
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Credit: Frederick M. Brown/Getty; Micheline Pelletier/Sygma/Getty; John Sciulli/Getty

The Jellicle cats are about to become a lot more famous!

Filming begins this month on the Hollywood film adaptation of Cats. The musical features a group of cats — yes, played by humans in cat costumes — who must make an annual decision on which cat will ascend to the Heaviside Layer.

Written and composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber, and based off of a book of poetry by T.S. Elliot, the musical premiered on the West End in 1981 and Broadway in 1982, where it ran for 21 years and 18 years, respectively.

Tom Hooper, who adapted Les Misérables in 2012, co-wrote the screenplay with Billy Elliot writer Lee Hall, and will direct the project.

The musical, which is sung all the way through, will have one musical addition. Composer Lloyd Webber wrote a new song for the production, to be sung by Victoria, the White Cat. The song will be eligible for Best Original Song at the Academy Awards.

Taylor Swift and her cat Olivia Benson
| Credit: Taylor Swift/Instagram

So far, Taylor Swift is the most talked about casting announcement. The famous cat-lover, 28, will appear as either Bombalurina or Demeter, the duo who sing “Macavity the Mystery Cat.”

“Well, basically, [director] Tom Hooper thought it was a really good idea, and of course, she loves cats,” Lloyd Webber, 70, told Vulture in September. “We’ll see. I mean, I haven’t met her, so I’m looking forward to meeting her and seeing her [at work].”

Dreamgirls actress Jennifer Hudson will star as Grizabella, and will likely give a show-stopping performance of “Memory,” the musical’s most popular song.

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Hudson, 37, confirmed the announcement in July with a video of her cat in a backpack.

Judi Dench and Ian McKellen have also joined the cast as Old Deuteronomy — the leader of the Jellicle cats — and Gus the Theatre Cat, respectively.

“At the moment I’m looking for the inner pussy,” McKellen joked on The Graham Norton Show. “I thought about going on a cat diet, weekend’s just eating cat food, seeing if that helped. I always thought that tin cat food smelt as if it might be rather tasty. It isn’t.”

Judi Dench and Ian McKellen
| Credit: John Phillips/Getty

Royal Ballet choreographer Wayne McGregor is attached to choreograph the film, and Royal Ballet dancers Steven McRae and Francesca Hayward will appear in the project.

Other actors joining the film include “Lemon” dancer Mette Towley as Jemima, Rebel Wilson as Jennyanydots and PEOPLE’s Sexiest Man Alive Idris Elba, likely appearing as Macavity. Laurie Davidson and James Corden will also appear in unconfirmed roles.

Cats will arrive in theaters on December 20, 2019.