Andy Blankenbuehler. Photo credit: Charles Sykes/Invision/AP
Over the Holiday weekend, Deadline broke the story that originally slated Cats film choreographer Wayne McGregor was out as the film’s chief dance-maker, and Broadway sensation Andy Blankenbuehler was in.
According to the reporting, scheduling conflicts arose with Mr. McGregor, who currently holds the position of Resident Choreographer with The Royal Ballet.
McGregor currently has “two contrasting ballets” —The Unknown Soldier and Infra— programmed alongside Balanchine’s Symphony In C running at the The Royal Ballet in London through the end of this week.
The Cats film is scheduled to begin production in early December, which leaves Blankenbuehler little pre-production time. The three-time Tony® Award-winning choreographer, however, is familiar with the piece and is reportedly a “part of the extended Cats family having choreographed” Cats’ 2016 revival on Broadway.
Per previous reporting, the film’s casting bears a wide net of actors, pop-singers, comedians, stage-performers, and dancers.
Academy Award-winning singing-actress Jennifer Hudson is set to play Grizabella, Tony® and Olivier® winner Ian McKellen will play Gus The Theatre Cat, Tony®, and Olivier® award winner Judi Dench will star as Deuteronomy, comedy superstar Rebel Wilson as Jennyanydots, pop-sensation Jason Derulo as Rum Tum Tugger, and Emmy® winner Idris Elba will play the mischievous Macavity.
Judy Dench in a promo shot for the original West End company of Cats. During rehearsals, Dench snapped her Achilles tendon and had to withdraw from the production.
Pop-dancer Mette Towley is set to play Jemima and Royal Ballet principal dancers Steven McRae and Francesca Hayward are set to play the roles of Skimbleshanks and Victoria, respectively.
Grammy® winner Taylor Swift, Tony® and Emmy® winner James Corden, and Will star Laurie Davidson are all also slated for the film, but their roles have yet to be announced. More casting is expected to be released soon.
Andy Blankenbuehler is best known for his Tony® Award-winning work on Broadway’s monstrously successful hit Hamilton, as well as Bandstand, for which he won the 2017 Tony® Award for Best Choreography, and In The Heights for which he won the 2008 Best Choreography Tony®. He also choreographed the 2017 television remake of Dirty Dancing.
The Jellicle Ball, from the original 1998 filmed version of Cats.
Blankenbuehler has also set the movement to musicals like The Apple Tree, 9-5, The People In The Picture, Bring It On, and the 2012 revival of Annie.
Blankenbuehler also performed on Broadway prior to changing sides of the creative table, having danced in Guys And Dolls, Steel Pier, Fosse, Saturday Night Fever, and Man Of La Mancha.
He is an Astaire, Chita Rivera, Drama Desk, and Outer Critics Circle award-winner.
The Cats film is slated for release December 20, 2019, and will be directed by Tom Hooper.
Michael Mahany serves as the New York City Correspondent for Dance Network. He is also a professional actor, musician, dancer, and writer. Follow him on Twitter, Instagram, or click here to find out more.