Cats has finally made the leap from the stage to the screen, with the latest adaptation of the beloved Grammy and Tony-winning Broadway play opening in theaters on December 16. The star-studded cast has been busy promoting the film, with leads Jennifer Hudson, Taylor Swift, Jason Derulo, James Corden and Francesca Hayward stopping by The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon to perform the film’s iconic track “Memory.”
The stars joined Fallon and house band The Roots for the show’s latest installment in the Classroom Instruments segment. Rather than singing backstage at 30 Rock, the group set the scene in a beautiful ballroom where they used pieces of trash commonly found in alleyways, including bottles, buckets and a very on-brand can of tuna.
Fallon opened the performance and was joined by Swift, Corden and Hayward for their respective lines. Classically trained pop singer Jason Derulo showed off his impressive operatic range, with Jennifer Hudson, who performs “Memory” in the film, coming in to close out the performance with her stunning vocals.
Hudson received ample training on “Memory” during the filming of the movie, telling English TV host Graham Norton that Cats director Tom Hooper insisted the musical numbers be performed live, which meant Hudson sang “Memory” close to 30 times on set. The actor admitted that the emotionally taxing song took a toll, saying “That was challenging. I would sometimes say, do you want me to cry, or do you want me to sing, because I couldn’t do both at the same time. I had to find a balance to be able to sing and give you the song, but bare the emotion too, which can be challenging.”
Hudson also appeared on Tuesday’s finale of The Voice, where the former Voice coach returned to the series to deliver a pitch perfect performance of “Memory.” If there was ever a performance that deserved a shoe-toss, that was it.
Andrew Lloyd Weber’s iconic score, which helped make Cats the fourth-longest running Broadway shows of all time, is included in the new film as well as an original song by Weber and Taylor Swift. The pair co-wrote “Beautiful Ghosts,” which Swift said was inspired by her time on set watching professional ballerina Francesca Hayward. Swift performs the song as her Cats character Bombalurina in the film and helped to earn the movie’s only Golden Globe nomination, with “Beautiful Ghosts” scoring a nod for Best Original Song. Weber and Swift are up against Beyoncé, who was nominated for “Spirit” from The Lion King.
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I woke up today to the news that Beautiful Ghosts is nominated for a Golden Globe – it’s so cool that one of the most fun, fulfilling creative experiences I’ve ever had is being honored in this way by the HFPA. I ended up spending many days on set watching the other performers do their scenes. Watching the character Victoria, played by @frankiegoestohayward inspired me so much and Beautiful Ghosts was the result. Congrats to my co-writer and buddy 4 life Andrew Lloyd Webber. This is just purrfect. 😸
Cats quickly became one of the most buzzed about movies of 2019 following the release of its first trailer. The CGI-heavy film and its striking manipulation of actors is, as Swift described, weird, and has been dividing critics. Go for the strange human-cats, stay for the incredible soundtrack.