Prepare for musical magic

By Caroline Rogers
Judi Dench
Credit: NurPhoto/Getty Images

Cats, the popular Andrew Lloyd Webber stage musical about singing felines, is getting the big-screen treatment in 2019, and Dame Judi Dench has joined the cast. Dench will reportedly star in the movie musical as Old Deuteronomy, a wise and venerable cat.

Cats the Musical first premiered on stage in London in 1981 and soon transferred to Broadway. In 1983, it won seven Tony Awards, including the title of best musical. Lloyd Webber's original, much-awarded show is based on T.S. Eliot's Old Possum's Books of Practical Cats, a poetry collection that introduces the Jellicles, a group of cats who gather annually to decide which of them will ascend to the Heaviside Layer and be reborn into a new life.

This isn't Dench's first brush with the musical. According to BroadwayWorld, Dench once revealed that she was set to play the roles of Grizabella and Jennyanydots in the original 1981 London cast but had to leave the production due to an injury to her Achilles tendon. Now, decades later, she's getting a second chance at Cats on the silver screen.

Additional casting for the movie reportedly includes Ian McKellen (The Lord of the Rings, X-Men) as Gus the Theatre Cat, Idris Elba (Beasts of No Nation, Molly's Game) as Macavity, Jennifer Hudson (Dreamgirls, Chi-Raq) as Grizabella, Rebel Wilson (Pitch Perfect, How to Be Single) as Jennyanydots, and Jason Derulo (Empire, Lethal Weapon) as Rum Tum Tugger. James Corden (Into the Woods, Ocean's Eight) and Taylor Swift (The Giver, Valentine's Day) will also appear. Tom Hooper (Les Misérables, The Danish Girl, The King's Speech) is directing the film; he is also adapting the script alongside Lee Hall (Billy Elliot, War Horse). Andrew Lloyd Webber, Steven Spielberg, and Angela Morrison will executive produce.

We're fresh off the doses of delight provided by Dench's appearances in the new documentary Tea With the Dames (2018), and now we're looking forward to the premiere of Cats. If you want to brush up on Dench's recent films, check out Red Joan (2018), Victoria & Abdul (2017), Philomena (2013), Skyfall (2012), and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2011). For more classic Dench roles, watch Jane Eyre (2011), Notes on a Scandal (2007), Pride & Prejudice (2005), The Importance of Being Earnest (2001), and A Room With a View (1985).

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Will you see Cats when it's released in theaters next year? What other musicals would you like to see made into movies?