Oscar winner Judi Dench will make her long-awaited debut in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats, signing on to play Old Deuteronomy in Tom Hooper’s film adaptation of the long-running hit musical due out next holiday season.
Dench was first cast to play Grizabella in the 1981 London premiere of Cats, but withdrew in early rehearsals after tearing her achilles tendon. Elaine Paige, the West End star of Lloyd Webber’s Evita, stepped into the role—securing a hit with “Memory.”
Director Tom Hooper and Lee Hall have adapted the role of the sage old feline—traditionally a male role—specifically for Dench.
She joins a cast that includes Jennifer Hudson, Taylor Swift, James Corden, Ian McKellen, Laurie Davidson, Mette Towley, and Idris Elba.
The Tom Hooper-directed film from Universal/Working Title is expected to arrive in movie theatres December 20, 2019. Andrew Lloyd Webber is reportedly at work on composing new songs to help bring T.S. Eliot's fantastical feline realm to the screen.