The movie version of ‘Wicked’ has been pushed out of its Christmas 2019 release date by another film adaptation of a legendary Broadway show, ‘Cats’. Based on the poems by T.S. Eliot, the ‘Cats’ movie will be directed by Tom Hooper (‘The Danish Girl’, ‘The King’s Speech’) and will feature Sir Ian McKellan, James Corden, Taylor Swift and Jennifer Hudson, presumably all decked out in ’80s lycra Jazzercize unitards trimmed in fur. Meanwhile, ‘Wicked’ is set to be directed by Stephen Daldry (‘The Crown’, ‘Billy Elliot’). The story tells of the origins of the witches of Oz, prior to Dorothy’s arrival. It does not appear that anyone has been cast, so perhaps it’s a good thing that it’s being delayed. Both ‘Cats’ and ‘Wicked’ come courtesy of Universal Pictures.
‘Cats’, written by Andrew Lloyd Webber, tells of a tribe of– what else?– cats who gather each year to determine which of them will be sent to heaven in order to be reincarnated and come back in a new form. Choreography will be crafted by “movement pioneer” Wayne McGregor. Academy Award winner Hudson will portray Grizabella, a one-time “glamour cat” who is ostracized by the cat community, but it isn’t yet known who McKellan, Cordon, and Swift are playing, although it’s most likely that McKellan will portray wizened elder Old Deuteronomy. It remains to be seen how the film will replicate the live theater experience of adults dressed in ’80s lycra Jazzercize unitards trimmed in fur leaving the stage and invading viewers’ personal space by meowing in their faces. Will theaters have to hire actors for that? Because without that level of extreme discomfort, it’s just not ‘Cats’.
‘Wicked’ is based on the novel by Gregory Maguire, which was a prequel to the 1939 movie ‘The Wizard of Oz’, not the original book series by L. Frank Baum. Stephen Schwartz wrote the lyrics to the songs, with a book by Winnie Holzman. The story centers on the green-skinned Elphaba, an outcast among the citizens of Oz, who, as it turns out, had her hand forced into becoming the Wicked Witch of the West. Before that, however, she formed a friendship with her boarding school roommate Galinda, or Glinda, who would become the Good Witch of the North. The musical also touches on the never before revealed origins of the Scarecrow, Tin Man and Cowardly Lion.
‘Cats’ will prowl into theaters on December 20, 2019. ‘Wicked”s release is now undetermined.