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Cats film casts Royal Ballet dancer Francesca Hayward

The film is also due to star Judi Dench, Jennifer Hudson, Taylor Swift, Idris Elba, James Corden and Ian McKellen

Francesca Hayward in The Sleeping Beauty
© Bill Cooper/ROH

A Royal Ballet principal dancer is to star in the upcoming film version of Cats.

Tom Hooper's movie will feature Francesca Hayward as kitten Victoria – one of the major roles in the film – alongside the already announced Idris Elba (Macavity) and Judi Dench (Old Deuteronomy). Jennifer Hudson (Grizabella), Taylor Swift, James Corden, Ian McKellen are all also slated to appear in the film.

Hayward trained at The Royal Ballet School and graduated into the Royal Ballet company during the 2010/11 season. She became a principal in 2016. She will return to the company next spring.

The film adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical, which is based on TS Eliot's Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats, is due out in December 2019.

Originally opening in 1981, the musical tells of a group of cats deciding who will ascend to the Heavyside Layer. Elaine Paige played Grizabella in the original London cast alongside Brian Blessed, Sarah Brightman, Wayne Sleep, Bonnie Langford and Paul Nicholas.