The cat is out of the bag - one of the nation’s best-loved singers is to head the cast of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s CATS when it comes to Blackpool this summer.
Jane McDonald will play the central role of Grizabella during the eight-week run at the Opera House, it has been revealed.
The ex-Loose Women presenter is in town today to launch the production which will run from Thursday, July 9 at the Winter Gardens’ theatre.
Producer David Ian announced the star casting to an invited audience, ahead of the summer season - which is the only place outside London where fans can see the show this year.
Jane said: “I am absolutely thrilled to be playing Grizabella in CATS.
“It is an honour to have been selected by Andrew Lloyd Webber and I can’t wait for the show to begin in July.
“I will be working with a fantastic production team and cast and I am looking forward to the reaction from audiences in Blackpool.”
Jane, who played the Opera House on her solo tour in October, rocketed to stardom in 1998 in the BBC1 docusoap The Cruise, going on to enjoy fame as a singer and presenter.
She added: “I always enjoy Blackpool and have had some great nights at the Opera House so now to be returning for 2015 in CATS is wonderful and, of course, I can’t wait to spend the summer by the seaside.”
Magical musical CATS will be making its third visit to Blackpool, having first enjoyed a six-month run at the Opera House in 1989, then returning in 2003 as part of a national tour.
The show returned to London’s West End last year, recreated by the original team Sir Lloyd Webber, Trevor Nunn, Gillian Lynne and John Napier for a modern audience.
Composor Sir Lloyd Webber said: “Last year the original CATS creative team got together to re-create the show for the London Palladium and, following a phenomenal run in the West End, I am delighted that we are set to visit Blackpool with our production this summer.
“CATS was originally seen in Blackpool 26 years ago when Marti Webb played Grizabella. I am thrilled that for this return visit Jane McDonald is to join our company to take on the role.
“We are all very much looking forward to returning to the Opera House in July.”
And director Trevor Nunn paid tribute to Blackpool’s theatrical heritage: “We are so pleased be returning to Blackpool with our production of CATS and are looking forward to seeing John Napier’s extraordinary set back at the Opera House.
“Since its world premiere in 1981 CATS has been performed extensively around the world and we are delighted to be bringing our cast of 30 performers direct from the West End to Blackpool’s historic theatre destination.”
Adapted from TS Eliot’s ‘Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats’, with a musical score that includes the timeless Memory, spectacular sets, stunning costumes and breath-taking choreography, CATS is a truly magical musical.
Winter Gardens managing director Michael Williams said: “We are thrilled Jane McDonald has been cast for Blackpool. Jane has performed on the Opera House stage a number of times and her shows are always a great success.
“I have no doubt she will make a fantastic Grizabella and I look forward to welcoming Jane along with this amazing show this summer.”
n CATS, Blackpool Opera House, Thursday, July 9 to Sunday, September 6. Visit www.wintergardensblackpool.co.uk for tickets.