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Royal Ballet Principals Francesca Hayward and Steven McRae to star in Cats

The Royal Ballet dancers will perform in Universal Pictures and Working Title’s film adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical.

By Mel Spencer (Senior Editor (Social Media))

2 November 2018 at 8.03am | 14 Comments

Francesca Hayward and Steven McRae, Principal dancers of The Royal Ballet, have joined the cast of Universal Pictures and Working Title’s film adaptation of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Cats, directed by Academy Award-winner Tom Hooper.

Director of The Royal Ballet Kevin O’Hare comments: ‘I’m delighted that Francesca has been asked to take the leading role in Cats which promises to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and one which showcases her fantastic talent to a whole new audience. I have no doubt that she will shine in this role as she has done in so many productions with The Royal Ballet and look forward to her returning to the Company next spring.’

He adds: ‘It’s really exciting that Steven is joining the cast, alongside fellow Royal Ballet Principal Francesca Hayward, allowing him to showcase his fantastic versatility and theatrical flair on film.’

Based on Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats by T.S. Eliot, the film adaptation will be produced by Working Title Films in association with Monumental Pictures and The Really Useful Group and executive produced by three-time Oscar-winner Steven Spielberg, Lloyd Webber and Angela Morrison.

Hayward is replaced in Alastair Marriott’s The Unknown Soldier by Principal dancer Yasmine Naghdi. Steven McRae will return to the Royal Opera House stage as Romeo in the spring and replacement casting for the Autumn and Winter Seasons will be announced in due course.

[This article has been amended to reflect the announcement on 8 November that Steven McRae will also take part in the film]

By Mel Spencer (Senior Editor (Social Media))

2 November 2018 at 8.03am

This article has been categorised Ballet and tagged Andrew Lloyd Webber, Cats, Cats film, Francesca Hayward

This article has 14 comments

  1. Simon Smith responded on 7 November 2018 at 7:33pm Reply

    Congratulations to Francesca Hayward - what a fantastic opportunity for her and also also to introduce new audiences to her talents and to ballet/dance. It's great that Kevin O'Hare and the Royal Ballet provide such support. Whilst disappointed not to be seeing Francesca on stage over the Winter, I'll be even more pleased to see her Juliet in the Spring.

  2. Sheila J responded on 8 November 2018 at 1:24pm Reply

    Congratulations to both Steven and Francesca. Can’t wait to see them on the big screen.

  3. Simon Smith responded on 8 November 2018 at 6:54pm Reply

    When posting last night we hadn't had Steven McRae's news and I hear Olivia Cowley is also cast in Cats. Congratulations to all - and again many thanks to Kevin O'Hare and the Royal Ballet for extending such support.

  4. jjulia responded on 8 November 2018 at 6:56pm Reply

    What about my visi t to see nutcracker on Dec 7th - now no cast confirmed - I want to know WHO I will be seeing. ??

    • Mel Spencer (Senior Editor (Social Media)) responded on 9 November 2018 at 3:45pm

      Hi Julia,

      We're sorry for the inconvenience here - we understand it's frustrating not having the casting details in this case. We'll be announcing their replacements as soon as we can.

      Many thanks,


  5. Stephanie Burgess responded on 9 November 2018 at 4:06pm Reply

    I agree with Julia, it's hugely frustrating, especially as we booked for that date for a production we have seen many times specifically to see that particular cast!

  6. R.a. responded on 9 November 2018 at 5:46pm Reply

    Is it true that Olivia Cowley is also dancing in cats? Could you let all of us enthusiastic ballet goers have a complete list of all those from the royal Ballet who will be appearing and not just the principals? Many thanks

  7. Brett responded on 9 November 2018 at 6:50pm Reply

    will Francesca be back for Juliet ?

  8. Anne responded on 11 November 2018 at 5:04pm Reply

    I wonder, which is Francesca's role? And, Olivia's?

  9. Stevie responded on 11 November 2018 at 7:31pm Reply

    Good news about the opportunities for involvement in a new film and all the credits that go with it. It will not be difficult to find replacements, with the high standards and levels of performance within this company. To avoid frustration, it is best not to have favorites. In any case favoritism implies giving unfair advantage and this company is about giving opportunities. It is good to see new performers and rising stars given such opportunity and for us to see them in a debut performance gives added interest.

  10. Lenore responded on 13 November 2018 at 5:08am Reply

    This casting in the movie couldn't have been a surprise. It must have been in the works for months. Why would you cast and announce McRae in the Don Q cinema relay only to let people down? Its one thing for a regular performance but for those of us around the world who rely on the cinema to see our fave dancers its kinda not nice. Especially when your theater does not give refunds.

    • Mel Spencer (Senior Editor (Social Media)) responded on 13 November 2018 at 10:34am

      Hi Lenore,

      We always announce cast changes as soon as possible, as we understand people will have booked tickets to see specific casts for performances, or cinema tickets. In this case, we made the announcement as soon casting was confirmed, in conjunction with the film production company.

      Sorry to disappoint on this occasion,


  11. Alex responded on 13 November 2018 at 4:56pm Reply

    Can the person responsible for updating the RB casting on the ROH website please PLEASE communicate with those in the know of the actual casting. Hayward is still listed as dancing Winter's Dream, Two Pigeons etc etc whereas we have read she won't be dancing with the RB until late Spring 2019. Who will be dancing Nutcracker Sugar Plum/Prince on 7th December? Who will be dancing Irina in Winter's Dream on 18th December? Yes it is important for us paying members of the audience to know who we'll see on the dates we have booked for. Also, it is about showing respect towards those dancers who have to take over extra shows because some dancers have joined as Cats dancers.

    • Mel Spencer (Senior Editor (Social Media)) responded on 13 November 2018 at 8:30pm

      Hi Alex,

      Thanks for your comment and for your patience here. We will announce the casting as soon as it is confirmed, and communicate with ticket holders as soon as we have replacement casting secured - at the moment, the replacement casting is still TBC so we have not updated the website (although, I agree it is confusing to have Francesca and Steven listed when they will not be dancing). We understand the importance of letting you know in advance who you will be seeing, and giving the dancers performing the credit they deserve.

      Many thanks,


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