British singing sensation, Leona Lewis is back on the scene, starring in the Broadway revival of the tony award-winning production ‘Cats’.
The pop star is replacing Pussycat Dolls singer Nicole Scherzinger, in her role of “Grizabella,” the Glamour Cat. The singer took to Twitter to announce the news, saying: “Can’t even believe this. I’m thrilled & honoured to announce I’ll be playing the part of Grizabella in Cats Broadway!”
Lewis, the 3-time grammy award nominee, has sold over 20 million records worldwide and is the first British female solo artist to top the US Billboard 200 album chart in more than 20 years.
“Leona has one of the greatest voices of her generation,” said Webber. “We are all hugely excited about working with her.”
Webber’s decision to cast Lewis came amidst controversy with Scherzinger. Scherzinger pulled out of the production at the last minute to join X Factor as a judge, which left Webber scrambling to find a replacement. Scherzinger leaving did not sit well with Webber. “I went out on a limb to get her for the London Palladium here, and it makes me look like an absolute twat with them all,” Webber added, in an interview with Economist Radio. “But never mind, there’ll be another girl on Broadway and Nicole will not get her Tony Award.”
Scherzinger said in a statement that she had every intention of performing Cats on Broadway, but says the contract was never finalized. “I am incredibly blessed to be given so many amazing opportunities, including Cats, but unfortunately we weren’t able to make it work this time around,” she said.
The musical, based on T.S. Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, was first introduced to Broadway in 1982 by Andrew Lloyd Webber and is now seeing its Broadway revival. While winning a Tony award for Best Musical, CATS made history as it was named the longest running show on Broadway in 2000 until it was surpassed by Webber’s The Phantom of The Opera.
CATS adds to Webber’s impressive repertoire, as he has two other distinct musicals running simultaneously on Broadway: The Phantom of the Opera and School of Rock – The Musical.
The musical returns to Broadway this summer at the Neil Simon Theatre with an official opening scheduled for Sunday, July 31, 2016.