Jennifer Hudson, Taylor Swift, James Corden and Ian McKellen have been cast in Working Title’s upcoming movie version of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s smash musical Cats.
Tom Hooper, the Oscar-winning director of The King’s Speech, will direct Cats, which is set to begin shooting in Britain in November. The screenplay by Lee Hall (Billy Elliot) is based on Lloyd Webber’s musical, which was itself adapted from a book of children’s poems by TS Eliot.
Hudson, who won an Oscar in 2007 for her breakout role in Dreamgirls, will play Grizabella, the former “glamour cat” who falls on hard times and gets to sing about it in showstopper Memory. It is unclear which roles will be played by Swift, Corden and McKellen.
Cats is one of the most successful musicals in history, enjoying long runs both in London’s West End and on Broadway. The possibility of a movie version has long been bandied about.
Working Title’s Eric Fellner and Tim Bevan brought another beloved stage musical, Les Miserables, to the big screen in 2012. That film was nominated for best picture at the Academy Awards and won a statuette for Anne Hathaway as best supporting actress.
Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, published in 1939, is a collection of poems about creatures known as Jellicle cats and their secret world, but lacks an overarching storyline. Lloyd Webber’s musical stitches the poems together into a tale of cats seeking some sort of feline redemption in the Heaviside layer, which is located above London, “up, up, up past the Russell Hotel.”
Besides tired and tattered Grizabella, other characters include Old Deuteronomy, Macavity and the Rum Tum Tugger.