Leona Lewis will take on the role of Grizabella in the Broadway revival of Cats this July. The casting of the British singer, who is widely regarded as the most gifted X Factor champion, brings to an end weeks of speculation following Andrew Lloyd Webber’s angry revelation that American Nicole Scherzinger had ditched her chance of Broadway stardom in favour of returning to the judging panel on the faltering TV talent show.
Confirming Lewis’ casting, a delighted Lloyd Webber reportedly said: “Leona has one of the greatest voices of her generation. We are all hugely excited about working with her.”
The Londoner whose voice proved unstoppable on the third series of the TV talent show has had hits on both sides of the Atlantic and is probably better known in the US than Scherzinger.
Commenting on her casting as the cat who sings the showstopping ballad ‘Memory’, Lewis said: “It is an incredible honour to be asked by Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber to join the Cats family. I will never forget seeing the show as a little girl and how blown away I was by the magical experience of it.
“I am beyond thrilled for my Broadway debut to be in such an iconic show. To work with a team as legendary as those on Cats is an experience I will cherish every moment of. I cannot wait to see the audiences out in NYC!”
Lewis will join a cast that includes Tyler Hanes as Rum Tum Tugger, Ricky Ubeda as Mistoffelees, Quentin Earl Darrington as Old Deuteronomy, Eloise Kropp as Jennyannydots/Gumbie, Giuseppe Bausilio as Carbucketty, Jeremy Davis as Skimbleshanks, Kim Faure as Demeter, Sara Jean Ford as Jellylorum, Lili Froehlich as Electra, Daniel Gaymon as Macavity, Shonica Gooden as Rumpleteazer, Christopher Gurr as Gus/Bustopher Jones, Andy Huntington Jones as Munkustrap, Kolton Krouse as Tumblebrutus, Jess LeProtto as Mungojerrie, Georgina Pazcoguin as Victoria, Emily Pynenburg as Cassandra, Arianna Rosario as Sillabub, Ahmad Simmons as Alonzo, Christine Cornish Smith as Bombalurina, Corey Snide as Coricopat, Emily Tate as Tantomile and Sharrod Williams as Pouncival.
The production, directed by Trevor Nunn and choreographed by Hamilton’s Andy Blankenbuehler, will begin preview performances at the Neil Simon Theatre on 14 July. The opening night is set for 31 July.
Lloyd Webber, who was credited with rejuvenating the former Pussycat Doll Scherzinger’s singing career when she was cast as Grizabella in the West End revival, admitted earlier this month that he had asked the American producers of the Broadway version of the show to give the singer a chance for a repeat performance on the other side of the Atlantic.
In a radio interview he said: “I’m furious because I really believe she’s the most fantastically talented girl and I went out on a limb to get her for the London Palladium here, and it makes me look like an absolute twot with them all. But never mind, there’ll be another girl on Broadway and Nicole will not get her Tony Award.”
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