'Cats' Choreographer Andy Blakenbuehler Drops a Few Hints About the Film
Updated: Apr 27
One of the longest-running shows on Broadway, Cats, is getting the big-screen treatment in 2019. It will be much different than the show everyone saw in the 1980s or the recent revival because technology will play a big part in reimagining this popular property.
With an all-star cast, including Idris Elba (Macavity), Taylor Swift (Bombalurina), Jennifer Hudson (Grizabella), Jason Derulo (Rum Tum Tugger), James Corden (Bustopher Jones), Rebel Wilson (Jennyanydots), Dame Judi Dench (Old Deuteronomy) and Sir Ian McKellen (Gus The Theatre Cat), the movie is guaranteed to have something for everyone. Director Tom Hooper is put to the task of taking a beloved show and turning into something fresh, yet the same. He helmed Les Misérables, so he knows what he's up against.
Choreographer Andy Blakenbuehler, who left the set of Fosse/Verdon after three episodes to work on the film, replaced Wayne McGregor, who had schedule conflicts at The Royal Ballet. After that game of choreographer musical chairs, Blakenbuehler appreciated having the opportunity to get an original take on Cats after choreographing the Broadway revival.
"It was a huge adventure, one that I dove into late — it was like jumping onto a moving freight train. I was blessed to have had an experience with the show [before] because if I hadn't, it wouldn't have been possible because of the amount of work was so big," Blakenbuehler told Dance Network exclusively. "Then again, everything we did in the film was not what we did on Broadway. It was brand new, but at least I had gone to college with it."
Audiences shouldn't even expect the same iconic show Gillian Lynne choreographed in 1981 nor should they predict the same movement Blakenbuehler created for the Broadway revival in 2016. The 2019 film will bring its unique flavor with motion-capture being used by all of the actors in Cats. The performers will also be the size of cats with oversized sets, so don’t expect any unitard action in this production.
"The piece and the cast were a variety show in a way with so many people from different walks of life and different skill sets," he revealed. "It became about community, which is the show is actually about. So it was really exciting and there's going to be some dazzling moments in that, I think."
If there's one thing audiences can predict is an epic moment with Jennifer Hudson as Grizabella. Her rendition of "Memory" is bound to be monumental, and just like Hooper's Les Mis where he made his actors sing live on set, it appears that the same situation happened on Cats.
"She sang 'Memory' so many times, take after take, with unapologetic fervor. She just belted it out," teased Blakenbuehler. "It was really interesting because everybody wears in-ear monitors. If you don't have an in-ear monitor, all you hear is the voice — you don't hear the music. So on this huge movie set, you're hearing this impassioned voice. She was really amazing."
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