Cats To Return To London

Cats The MusicalThe iconic musical Cats will return to the London Palladium later this year, playing a final ten week season from 23 October 2015, having already seen its West End revival earlier this year which was a huge success. Andrew Lloyd Webber’s creation will go on sale on 14 May for the run, which plays from 23 October 2015 to 2 January 2016.

Casting is yet to be announced for the production’s strictly limited season, however the original Palladium run has already seen pop star Nicole Scherzinger and musical theatre star Kerry Ellis play Grizabella. Later this year Cats will tour to Blackpool ahead of its return to London, and the iconic singer Jane McDonald will play the iconic role of Grizabella. These three women follow in the footsteps of the original Elaine Paige creating the role.

Lloyd Webber’s musical is directed by Trevor Nunn, with choreography by Gillian Lynne and design by John Napier. 2014’s high-profile return of the show reunited the original creative team, including director Nunn and choreographer Lynne. The musical takes inspiration from T.S. Eliot’s poems about the feline creatures to tell the wonderful story of the Jellicle cats and the Jellicle ball. Its triumphant return to the West End last year was a delight for its original – and new – fans. Only recently did it close after its Olivier Award-nominated run.

Featuring much-loved songs including Mr Mistoffelees, Macavity: The Mystery Cat and the iconic Memory, given its resounding success by Paige as Grizabella, Cats was first staged in 1981, when it went on to run for a record breaking 21 years. The show continues to delight fans and be a favourite amongst musical theatre enthusiasts as it is now enjoying further success from 2014 to 2015 and onwards.

A New Recruit For Cats?

Cats The MusicalIt has been rumoured that West End star Kerry Ellis is set to take over the role of Grizabella from pop princess Nicole Scherzinger in Cats at the London Palladium in 2015, a huge theatrical coup for musical theatre fans. Scherzinger has previously received mixed reactions from musical theatre-goers however for many, the most important aspect of the news is that Cats will most likely be extending further than it’s previously advertised 12 week run.

Ellis, best known for starring in Wicked in the West End and on Broadway, will play Grizabella from 9 February, according to the Daily Mail newspaper. Ellis trained at Laine Theatre Arts in Surrey and has a firm place in the group of Laine’s successful alumni.

Cats the musical, which has returned to the West End after a 12 year period, opened to rave reviews at the Palladium in December, and is currently booking to 27 February 2015, although an extension is likely. The cast and creatives have been praised for the revival of the timeless production, with undefeated choreography from Dame Gillian Lynne who continues to surprise at nearly 90 years old.

For Ellis it was after appearing as one of Martine McCutcheon’s understudies in My Fair Lady that her breakthrough role came in 2002: she played Meat in the premiere of the Queen musical We Will Rock You at the Dominion Theatre to great acclaim. Her other credits include Wicked (for which she has won awards such as the 2008 WhatsOnStage Award for Best Takeover in a Role), Oliver!, Miss Saigon, Les Miserables and Rent, earning her a firm place in the line up of iconic musical theatre artists.

Pop Princess Nicole Scherzinger To Star In Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats

Nicole ScherzingerFormer Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger will make her West End stage debut this year when she takes to the stage as Grizabella in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s record-breaking musical Cats. The musical, directed by Trevor Nunn and choreographer by Gillian Lynne, will return to the West End for a strictly limited run from 6 December at the iconic London Palladium.

Having trained in theatre and dance at the Wright State University in Ohio, Scherzinger found fame with American pop group the Pussycat Dolls which sold 50 million records worldwide. She has since enjoyed success as a solo artist, selling 16 million records and having number one singles in the UK. In 2011 she joined the UK version of the X Factor as a judge and also performed one of Lloyd Webber’s songs at the Royal Variety Performance, “Phantom of the Opera”, alongside John-Owen Jones, Ramin Karimloo, Earl Carpenter and Simon Bowman.

Also joining the cast will be Zizi Strallen (niece of Bonnie Langford, sister of Summer, Scarlett and Sasi) as Demeter alongside Cameron Ball (Macavity/Admetus), Kathryn Barnes (Tantomile), Cassie Clare (Cassandra), Ross Finnie (Skimbleshanks), Charlene Ford (Bombalurina), Adam Lake (Alonzo), Paul F Monaghan (Bustopher Jones/Asparagus/Growl Tiger), Joel Morris (Carbucketty), Natasha Mould (Jemima), Benjamin Mundy (Coricopat), Joseph Poulton (Quaxo/Mistoffelees), Nicholas Pound (Old Deuteronomy), Sophie Ragavelas (alternate Grizabella), Clare Rickard (Jellylorum/Griddlebone), Adam Salter (Bill Bailey), Laurie Scarth (Jennyanydots), Hannah Kenna Thomas (Victoria/White Cat), Callum Train (Munkustrap) and Dawn Williams (Rumpleteazer) who are joined by swings Ryan Gover, Barry Haywood, Alice Jane, Grace McKee, Dane Quixall and Libby Watts.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Rumours For Cats The Musical

Cats The MusicalIn news that may have surprised some musical theatre fans, it has been rumoured that former Pussycat Doll, solo artist and X Factor judge may be in the running to make her West End debut in Cats. It seems Nicole is in “very early discussions” to star in Cats as Grizabella the Glamour Cat, at the London Palladium for the show’s limited run later in the year.

Nicole majored in musical theatre at university, and has had small roles in various TV shows. Last year, she dedicated a fabulous rendition of “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina” from Evita on an ITV show to Andrew Lloyd Webber, so she has been on Lloyd Webber’s radar since 2011. He had planned for Nicole to join the judging panel of one of his reality TV casting shows such as Any Dream Will Do.

If Nicole is to join the uber-talented cast she will do so in the wake of musical theatre legends Elaine Paige and Ruthie Henshall who have also played the role. In addition to this, Lea Salonga (the original Miss Saigon) even portrayed the prominent cat in her native Philippines.

It has also been rumoured that Nicole has been itching to get onto the West End musical scene for some time, having already sung a rendition of the title song, “The Phantom of the Opera”, with Simon Bowman, Earl Carpenter, Ramin Karimloo and John Owen-Jones. 2012 also saw her rumoured to play the part of Mary Magdalene in the comeback Jesus Christ Superstar arena production, only to be offered a stint on X Factor, and be replaced by former Spice Girl Mel C.

Cats will run for a strictly limited twelve-week run from 6 December 2014 following its current UK tour.

Musical Hits Cats And Evita To Return To The West End

Cats The MusicalWest End superstars Cats and Evita are set to be returning to the West End for limited runs at the London Palladium and Dominion Theatre respectively.

The original creative team for Cats will reunite for the December opening, with direction from Trevor Nunn, design by John Napier and superb choreography by Gillian Lynne. According to sources Andrew Lloyd Webber is re-writing a couple of songs. Further information has now been confirmed. The team are taking the Cats show that is currently touring, and will be working on it afresh.

Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Evita will also be retuning to West End for limited run at the Dominion starring Marti Pellow & Madalena Alberto to open in September. The production will run for 55 performances only until 1 November however Marti Pellow and Madalena Alberto will reprise their performances from the UK Tour as Che Guevara and Eva Peron, with direction by Bill Kenwright and Bob Tomson.

Evita will be the first show to run at the Dominion following its renovation work and the closure of We Will Rock You. Evita charts the story of Eva Peron, wife of former Argentine dictator Juan Peron, from her humble beginnings through to the extraordinary wealth, power and iconic status which ultimately led her to be heralded as the ‘spiritual leader of the nation’.

For over 30 years Marti Pellow has enjoyed global success as the lead singer of Wet Wet Wet and as a solo artist. He has appeared in The Witches of Eastwick, Chess, Jekyll & Hyde, Chicago and Blood Brothers. Madalena Alberto’s theatre credits include Les Misérables (25th Anniversary production), Jekyll and Hyde and Fame. Her first album Don’t Cry For Me will be released to coincide with Evita’s opening.

Dawn Williams – Life On Tour In Cats!


As the Cats tour grips the country in a wealth of feline frolics and incredible talent, Dance Direct caught up with Dawn Williams, who is fresh out of musical theatre college and is playing kitten Jemima.

Dawn, have you always wanted to be on stage?

I have wanted to be on stage, for as long as I can remember, and have been dancing, singing and acting from such a young age. Performing was the only thing that I knew I wanted to do as a career.

Dawn WilliamsWhere did you go to train and what was it like there?

I went to Harlequin Stage School in Worcesterhire, as well as WODYS amateur dramatics and Emma Winscom Young Singers. For the last 3 years, I have trained at Laine Theatre Arts in Epsom, Surrey, where I graduated in Professional Musical Theatre and Dance. It was three years that I wouldn’t change for the world and I feel that it was the right school for me as it fulfilled all my needs and concentrated on aspects which I needed to improve and learn more about. Of course, it had highs and lows, and it was never easy, but the hard work was definitely worth it and I graduated ready for the industry. Well, as ready as I could have been! I think you are always going to be learning ‘on-the-job’ and from other people throughout your career.

Did you audition a lot before Cats?

I started auditioning in my final term at Laine, through the college agency. I auditioned for cruises, West End shows and tours, even flew to Germany for an audition. I did okay in these auditions, and wasn’t too disappointed as I was still at college. I then got a QDOS pantomime playing Wendy in Peter Pan. I was over the moon, as I felt that this was a good place to start my career. From graduating from Laine I then got a new agent.  I got signed by Gina Rowland from Bronia Buchannan and was fortunate to obtain fringe work at the Union theatre in a production of Call Me Madam directed by Michael Strassen. It was then that I started to audition for Cats and was successful. I was very lucky as I then went from job to job.

What was the Cats audition like?

The Cats audition process started with a dance round first, where we were taught a section of the Jellicle Ball. Then there was a cut which kept back a handful from a room full of girls. We then had to sing our own material and I got called back several times after this and was asked to learn material from Cats.  We worked on the dance choreography each time we had a call-back: after a 3 week process I got a phone call from my agent to say that I have been offered the role of Jemima and first cover Rumpleteazer. As expected I screamed! And ran round my house!

Were the rehearsals hard?

The rehearsal process was hard as for the majority of the time I was still getting my head around the fact that I was there and was going to be a part of such a great show! We only had one month, which (we were warned) had never been done before for Cats. Learning the choreography was amazing as it was the original as choreographed by Gillian Lynne, and learning all the music was amazing as I had never been in an environment where 26 people were all singing great music in harmony. I had to make sure that I went home and went over everything I my head, so I was singing and doing the dance moves in my sleep. Along with learning the solid material, becoming a cat was so interesting as well as difficult. We had to attend a cat workshop in order to focus on all aspects of becoming a convincing cat. We were taught to be aware of what was around us, our senses, our feelings and everything in our bodies and how that all made us feel or react.  I would say that all of this work was harder than setting and learning the show!

What is understudying like?

I’ve really enjoyed understudying. At first I found it hard as I was learning my own track so in rehearsals I took note of where my cover was positioned,  then when I was confident with the part of Jemima I learnt the choreography for Rumpleteaser.

Have you played the part yet?

Recently I have been on as Rumpleteaser, since the end of Manchester until first week in Bradford, where I did the first rehearsal and press night which was exciting but nerve wracking, just because Rumple is an older character and I had to think about the different counts and traffic, and also working in as a duet. But, I had a great time and it was good to do a run of shows rather than just a one-off performance.

What is it like being on tour?. Is it what you expected, or different?

I didn’t know what to expect really being on tour but I am really enjoying it, as it is my first big job and it keeps me fresh being at different venues, as the sound, stage, theatres are all so different. Some venues work better than others and some venues are nicer places to visit, but overall I am really enjoying it!

What is a day in the life of Dawn, and does this change from place to place on tour?

My normal day would be to get up at around 10am, have breakfast, and then go out to see the place in which I am staying and then meet some of the cast for lunch. I tend to eat larger lunch then I am used to, as I get to the theatre for 5pm, so I need something to fill me up until 10.30pm, but I eat about 3pm so that I don’t feel full by the time the show starts. When I get to the theatre it then takes me 45 minutes to do my makeup. Although I have got a lot faster, I don’t like to rush it and some of it I still find really tricky, like the eyes and muscle, so I like to take my time. I then have to warm up at 6pm, physical and vocal until the half hour call, then it’s wig and costume time. The show comes down at 10.15pm roughly, when I change and maybe have one drink after the show but most of the time I go back home and relax before bed.

Do you enjoy it?

I really am enjoying it but it is still overwhelming at times. Working with a great cast and team makes it even more enjoyable. The show is so energetic, as soon as you get into the zone to start the show Act 1 is done, it goes so fast and Act 2 soon follows. I love being Jemima too, as I am a kitten so I can have lots of fun, be playful, curious about different things and I have a great dance track, but then I get to perform the lovely spiritual moments singing at the beginning of Act 2 and later on in the show the famous Memory with Grizabella. With this show no performance is the same as we are always experimenting with different ways of being feline, the way we walk, the way we crawl, the way we get up and down, the positions on set and our relationships with the other cats.

Do you have any pre show rituals?

The cast of Cats always gets together at the beginners’ call and we all hold hands as we are about to become a tribe as this helps us all to get focused and it brings us all together before the show! I always have to have the same leg warmers on too, so the black one always goes on the left leg and the black and white one on the right!

What is your advice to aspiring performers?

Find the right training for you. Believe in yourself. Never give up. Work hard. Dreams really can come true!

Find out where the Cats tour is heading next:

Cats The Musical

Cats The MusicalSince Cats the musical opened on the West End stage in 1981 it has become one of the world’s best known and best loved musicals. Originally directed by Trevor Nunn, the show has since been presented in over 20 countries and in around 250 cities, including diverse destinations such as Buenos Aires, Seoul, Helsinki and Singapore, and has been translated into 10 languages for audiences all over the world. The show has translated into Japanese, German, (three versions for Germany, Austria and Switzerland), Hungarian, Norwegian, Finnish, Dutch, Swedish, French, Spanish (two versions for Mexico and Argentina) and Italian, with the Swiss production requiring a bilingual cast who performed in German and English on alternate nights

The original production opened at the New London Theatre in the West End on 11 May 1981: eight years later it celebrated its first important milestone and became the longest running musical in the history of the British theatre after 3,358 performances. Within two and half years of the London opening there were productions in New York, Tokyo, Budapest and Vienna, and the first of tour US touring productions had begun. Cats opened on Broadway in 1982 and ran until 2000, with 1997 seeing the show become the longest running musical on Broadway and 1991 marking Cats as the longest, continuously touring show in American theatre history.

In addition to the incredible dance and staging of the iconic production, the musical numbers of the show have also been hugely popular. “Memory” has been recorded by over 150 artists ranging from Barbra Streisand to Johnny Mathis, with Barry Manilow’s rendition was a top-40 hit in the U.S. The Original London Cast Recording of Cats also won the 1982 Grammy Award for Best Cast Album, in addition to a number of other awards over the years, and the following year the Original Broadway Cast Recording won the same award.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.