It looks like Wayne McGregor won't be dancing at the Jellicle Ball after all.
According to Deadline, the British choreographer has stepped away from the upcoming film adaptation of CATS after scheduling conflicts with The Royal Ballet arose. Though principal dancers Francesca Hayward and Steven McRae are taking brief hiatuses from performing with The Royal to allow for their filming obligations, we're guessing that the full-length McGregor is working on for the company (the first part of which is slated to premiere July 2019 in Los Angeles) needed to take priority.
And who is stepping in to replace him? None other than Tony Award–winning choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler.
Andy Blankenbuehler. Photo by Jeremy Daniel, Courtesy Blankenbuehler
The Broadway veteran is an exceptionally safe bet for this project: He choreographed the Broadway revival of CATS in 2016, which means he's already intimately familiar with the musical's characters and aesthetic—a must when stepping into a production that's already filming. Will we see Blankenbuehler further update the late Gillian Lynne's choreography as he did (somewhat controversially) for the revival?
On the one hand, we're disappointed that we won't get to see McGregor's vision for Victoria, Mr. Mistoffelees or Rum Tum Tugger. On the other, we're beyond excited that audiences who didn't make it to the Broadway revival will get to see what Blankenbuehler brought to the table. And as psyched as we were to see Hayward and McRae showcase their expertise in McGregor's idiosyncratic movement style, we're more than a little enchanted by the thought of seeing what they do under Blankenbuehler's direction.