The cast of the upcoming Cats movie is jam-packed with stars of stage, screen, and music. One of the biggest names in the cast is, of course, superstar Taylor Swift. And we finally have some info on who she's playing!
In an Instagram post on Jan. 22, Swift snapped a pic of herself in front of her trailer with the sign revealing her character's name: Bombalurina. While the flirty, glam Bombalurina isn't quite as recognizable of a name as some of the other Cats characters like Grizabella or the Rum Tum Tugger, she's definitely well-known to fans of the musical, and she participates in some of the crucial moments of the story.
In the stage version of the musical, Bombalurina starts out as just one of many Jellicle Cats introduced at the beginning. She soon begins to stand out from the crowd, singing "The Old Gumbie Cat" with two other cats, Demeter and Jellylorum. When the Rum Tum Tugger appears, she sings a small solo in his signature song and flirts with him as well. Bombalurina's parts throughout the musical are pretty similar to this: featured moments within larger songs, which she also has in "Grizabella, the Glamour Cat" and "Bustopher Jones."
Bombalurina does have one big moment in the spotlight: "Macavity, The Mystery Cat," which comes near the end of the musical. In the original version of the musical, she sang the song as a solo, but in most subsequent stagings, Demeter assists her in telling the story of Macavity (to be played by Idris Elba, Swift's copresenter at January's Golden Globes).
Although she sings in several songs, Swift's character is actually pretty minor when it comes to the actual plot of Cats (although the plot itself isn't overly complicated to begin with). She's more of a side character who adds color — often literally: she's typically identified by the bright red fur of her costume. In most scenes, she's part of the "Gumbie Trio" that consists of herself, Demeter, and Jellylorum. So why would producers cast Swift, one of the biggest names in the music world right now, as a minor character?
If the currently public cast is anything to go by, the filmmakers might actually be making some adjustments to the adaptation to give Swift a more high-profile role. So far, IMDb does not list anyone in the roles of Demeter and Jellylorum, the cats that typically appear alongside Bombalurina in the stage version. It's certainly possible that they simply haven't publicly announced who is playing these smaller roles, but it seems more likely that the team behind the film has chosen to fold all three of those roles into the single role of Bombalurina, giving Swift more to do in the story and also giving her solos where her stage counterpart would have been performing in duets or trios.
In the original London cast of Cats, Bombalurina was originated by Geraldine Gardner. When the show moved to Broadway, American actress Donna King took over the role. After King left the cast (actors on Broadway often leave a show after a year or two), she was succeeded by Marlene Danielle, who remained in the role for the rest of the show's record-setting run on Broadway: a whopping 18 years! While Swift won't have to play the part for quite that long, we're excited to see how she fares when the Cats movie is released on Dec. 20, 2019.