Ah, Cats — truly a divisive concept. Not the feline companions and everyone’s favorite meme subjects, but the Andrew Lloyd Webber mega-musical. In its long run as a show (it’s the fourth longest-running Broadway show, in case you were wondering how long), people call it either a classic or a joke. Well, mostly the latter. I’ve listened to the cast recording repeatedly and saw the show twice, and let me tell you: I still have no idea what’s going on.
Just kidding, I actually do know what’s going on. Once a year, a tribe of cats called the Jellicles hold a Jellicle ball, where they all decide who gets to ascend to the Heavyside Layer and get to be reborn into a new life. I’m presuming you’re laughing (I did not make up the plot, I swear! You can’t make up this stuff!) but it’s really a “what in the world am I watching?” sort of show.
What do you expect from a musical with songs based on T.S. Elliot’s collection of poems “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats,” dance, and well, not much else? You pay good money to see cats dance and somehow string a plot through songs, that’s it. Oh and there’s the Lea Salonga (Jennifer Hudson in the movie) role — the old cat who no one likes but asks for redemption, which is also how I describe myself most days.
It’s really a wonder why out of all musicals, it’s Cats that got a film version. With an all-star cast to boot, — James Corden, Jason Derulo, Idris Elba, Ian McKellen, Rebel Wilson, Taylor Swift, and Judi Dench. It’s got some theater pedigree too, from casting Royal Ballet principal dancer Francesa Hayward to hiring Hamilton’s choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler.
With such a team assembled, it seems they can do no wrong — except you know, bringing Cats to the big screen in the first place — but the internet seems to think otherwise. Since the trailer came out earlier today, people have described it as “nightmare fuel” and “demented dream horror ballet”, even going as far as claiming it “cursed the next four generations of my bloodline.” Okay Twitter, you gotta calm down: it’s not like they haven’t been doing the whole anthropomorphic for decades on stage. The “nightmare fuel” started in 1981, good sir. But we’ll humor you, we’ll begin at 0:00.
Twinkling, ominous notes on the piano: the perfect introduction for a show about cats.
That, my friend, is Royal Ballet principal dancer Francesa Hayward. She plays Victoria the White Cat, the main dancer cat (drinking game idea: shot every time I say the word cat) who starts the show and leads most of the numbers.
Milk Bar! How much did Christina Tosi pay for this placement?!
If you’ve always wondered what would Dame Judi Dench look like as a cat, then here’s your answer. Fun fact: Judi Dench was cast as Grizabella (if you’re keeping score, the Lea Salonga role) and as Jennyanydots (Rebel Wilson role) back in 1980 but a week before they opened, she snapped her Achilles tendon during rehearsals. Now she’s playing Old Deutoronomy, a wise ancient cat who’s the matriarch of all cats. Talk about fur circle he he get it.
Not gonna lie, these proportions are throwing me off. The cats are too small! I repeat: the cats are too small! Great sets, though.
Jaaaaason Deruloooo plays Rum Tum Tugger, a rebel Jellicle cat who loves attention a.k.a me on a good day.
James Corden plays Bustopher Jones, an elite cat. Social division truly exists everywhere.
That is not the latest Marvel supervillain, that is Idris Elba as Macavity the Cats supervillain. Get your villains right geez.
Taylor Swift can’t come to the phone right now — she’s a cat. She plays Bombalurina, a flirty and confident femme fatale cat. Is this a redemption casting after her performance in ‘Valentine’s Day’? We can only assume.
That cat is unmistakably Rebel Wilson playing Jennyanydots, lazy cat by day, mice and cockroach teacher slash therapist by night. And yes, that’s really the role.
Now, that’s gorgeous. CGI, you did well on this one.
Cats is scheduled for release in December 2019. Watch the trailer here: