CATS Has the “X-Factor” With Leona Lewis
CATS, the unique and unforgettable show that broke countless boundaries and records, is returning to Broadway this July. When it opened at the Winter Garden Theatre in 1982, CATS pioneered the concept of an immersive space to draw audiences into the setting, influencing countless other shows, like the 1998 revival of Cabaret and the upcoming The Great Comet. This innovative theatrical experience took Broadway by storm, making it the longest-running show until closing in 2000.
This will be the first NYC revival of the iconic, globally recognized, and successful production. It will also mark the first time Andrew Lloyd Webber will simultaneously have three shows on Broadway, including the current longest-running musical, Phantom of the Opera, and the recently debuted, Tony®-nominated School of Rock.
While much of the production will be recognizable to CATS fans, Tony Award®-winning choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler has undertaken the daunting task of updating the original choreography by Gillian Lynne. Blankenbuehler, who choreographed both In The Heights and Hamilton, hopes to bring his trademark ingenuity to CATS and experiment with the feline physicality of his dancers.
In a recent interview, Blankenbuehler said, “As a choreographer, it’s a great opportunity to further deepen the individual cats within the tribe. As Andrew’s musical styles change, I have them move in different ways. I am also making choreographic adjustments for Rum Tum Tugger, Mistoffelees, for the Macavity fight, and for our younger cats. One thing that’s going to be substantially different is the connective tissue between moments. The archetypal characters are the same but I want to make sure, as I have always done, that in the transitions, the storytelling continues in a very dynamic way.”
As the original creators did over 30 years ago, the creative team of the revival wants to allow the audience to identify with universal character traits distinguishable in the personification of each feline. The interpretation of the music, lyrics, and dance will be an important component of establishing new generations of CATS lovers while inviting longtime fans of the original production to experience the magic once more.
This new revival is generating buzz for its casting as well. In addition to an incredibly talented team of dancers, singers, and actors, the show recently announced that chart-topping British pop star—and winner of Britain’s X Factor—Leona Lewis will play the role of Grizabella the Glamour Cat. In making the announcement, Lloyd Webber said, “Leona has one of the greatest voices of her generation. We are all hugely excited about working with her.”
Lewis herself is thrilled to tackle the role that made “Memory” one of Broadway’s most famous songs and won Betty Buckley a Tony Award®. “It is an incredible honor to be asked by Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber to join the CATS family,” said Lewis. “I will never forget seeing the show as a little girl and how blown away I was by the magical experience of it. I am beyond thrilled for my Broadway debut to be in such an iconic show. To work with a team as legendary as those on CATS is an experience I will cherish every moment of. I cannot wait to see the audiences out in NYC!”
CATS will return to Broadway this summer at the Neil Simon Theatre, with preview performances beginning July 14.