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Meet the “Cats” Movie Dancers Who Also Performed in the Stage Production

Suffering from Cats-scratch fever after watching that tantalizing trailer all weekend? Eager to know more about the feline-filled film? Well, my fur-loving friends, this should do purrrrfectly (sorry NOT EVEN A TINY BIT sorry):

The new Cats movie famously features artists new to musical theater, from Royal Ballet principal Francesca Hayward to commercial dance sensations Les Twins to, you know, Taylor Swift. But the casting team didn't ignore the show's stage roots. In addition to bringing on choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler, the man behind the latest Broadway revival's moves, it also hired several extremely accomplished dancers who're veterans of the Broadway, West End, and/or touring productions of CATS. Here are a few of our favorites.


Naoimh Morgan (Rumpleteazer in UK and international tours, Rumpleteazer in film)

It looks like Morgan—whose resumé also includes ensemble parts in productions of Mary Poppins, West Side Story, and Cinderella—is the only artist to play the same Cats role both onscreen and onstage. *snaps*

Zizi Strallen (Demeter in UK tour and West End productions, Tantomile in film)

The gifted Strallen also played the title role in the UK tour and West End productions of Mary Poppins.

Freya Rowley (Tantomile on UK tour, Jellylorum in film)

In addition to her CATS stage work, Rowley performed in productions of Strictly Ballroom: The Musical and Jekyll and Hyde.

Kolton Krouse (Tumblebrutus on Broadway, ensemble in film)

Fun fact: The very fabulous Krouse was still a student at Juilliard when he first appeared in CATS on Broadway.

Corey John Snide (Coricopat/dance captain on Broadway, ensemble/creative team in film)

Another Juilliard grad (and a Dance Spirit cover star!), Snide also danced in the Broadway production of Carousel and was one of Billy Elliot's Billys back in the day.

ALMOST Judi Dench (ALMOST Grizabella/Jennyanydots in original West End cast, Old Deuteronomy in film)

Dench in the film version of Cats (Universal Pictures)

As we learned in that rather epic behind-the-scenes video, Dame Dench was thiiiiiiis close to dancing up a storm as Grizabella and Jennyanydots in the very first CATS cast—but then she snapped her Achilles tendon. What could have been!

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Photo by Brooke Fera

Enter the World of the Knicks City Dancers with 2 of Their Newest Rookies

Auditions rarely fail to deliver on suspense. But this? This was the nail-biter to end all nail-biters. Hayoung Roh and Chelsea McCloskey, both professional dancers based in NYC, had made it through what felt like endless rounds of cuts, both on Zoom and in person. Out of the nearly 500 dancers (from 30 states and nine countries) who'd answered the Knicks City Dancers' open call for video submissions, just 20 remained—McCloskey and Roh among them. "We were separated into six holding rooms, where we kept trying to figure out the math," Roh recalls. "How many girls are there in total? Who was called back?"

Finally, the women returned to the audition room to dance one last time—or so they were told. Instead, KCD head coach Alyssa Quezada dropped her bombshell: All 20 women had made the final cut. They would be 2021–22 Knicks City Dancers: the latest and greatest edition of one of the most prestigious NBA dance teams. "It was the biggest celebration and the coolest moment of my dance career so far," says McCloskey now. And that was just the oh-so-perfectly-dramatic beginning.

Chelsea McCloskey stands on her left leg while kicking her right leg up with her arms crossed, a smile on her face. She is auditioning for KCD. Chelsea McCloskey Photo by Tess Mayer


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