BY BILLY SUTER
AMERICAN recording star Taylor Swift has penned the lyrics for a new Andrew Lloyd Webber song that will feature in the film version of the hit musical Cats which, featuring Swift as cat Bombalurina, will be released globally in cinemas on December 20.
The song, Beautiful Ghosts, is performed by Royal Ballet principal dancer Francesca Hayward in the film, in her role of Victoria; and by Swift in the film’s end credits.
Cats is directed by Oscar-winning filmmaker Tom Hooper (Les Misérables, The King’s Speech), and also stars James Corden, Judi Dench, Jason Derulo, Idris Elba, Jennifer Hudson, Ian McKellen, Rebel Wilson and Royal Ballet principal dancer Francesca Hayward.
One of the longest-running shows in West End and Broadway history, the stage musical Cats includes some of Lloyd Webber’s most indelible songs, including Memory.
Lloyd Webber, Swift and the filmmakers were excited at the idea of introducing a new song for the film adaptation. Lloyd Webber saw an opportunity to create a new signature song for Victoria, whose character has been expanded for the film.
“When I first read the screenplay, the first thing I said was, ‘We have to have a song for Victoria,’” Lloyd Webber says.
Beautiful Ghosts, he says, is now, “an incredibly important and central part of the whole film”.
For director Tom Hooper, the song exceeded even his high expectations.
“What I couldn’t believe was the extraordinary beauty of the lyrics that Taylor had written,” Hooper says. “It was as if someone had come into the film I was in the middle of making and … had reflected back to me a profound understanding of what we are trying to do with the movie. It was utterly thrilling.”
Featuring Lloyd Webber’s iconic music and a world-class cast of dancers under the guidance of Tony-winning choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler (Hamilton, In the Heights), the film reimagines the musical for a new generation. It offers spectacular production design, state-of-the-art technology, and dance styles ranging from classical ballet to contemporary, hip-hop to jazz, street dance to tap.
The film also stars Robbie Fairchild (Broadway’s An American in Paris), Laurie Davidson (TNT’s Will), hip-hop dance sensation Les Twins (Larry and Laurent Bourgeois), acclaimed dancer Mette Towley (featured in videos for Rihanna and Pharrell Williams’ N.E.R.D.), Royal Ballet principal dancer Steven McRae, and rising-star singer Bluey Robinson.
The screenplay is by Lee Hall (Billy Elliot, Rocketman) and Hooper, based on Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats by T . Eliot and the stage musical by Lloyd Webber. Cats is executive produced by Lloyd Webber, Steven Spielberg, Angela Morrison and Jo Burn.
One of the longest-running shows in West End and Broadway history, Cats received its world premiere at the New London Theatre in 1981, where it played for 21 years and earned the Olivier and Evening Standard Awards for Best Musical.
In 1983, the Broadway production became the recipient of seven Tony Awards, including Best Musical, and ran for an extraordinary 18 years. Since opening in London in 1981, Cats has continuously appeared on stage around the globe, to date having played to 81 million people in more than 50 countries and in 19 languages.
NOTE: As part of this announcement, Universal today also released an exclusive, behind-the-scenes video documenting the creation and recording of the song and including an interview with Swift, Lloyd Webber and Hooper. See it by clicking https://youtu.be/0_yhrD6IJQA