A tribe of cats with names like Rum Tum Tugger, who sing, dance and hold an annual ball to choose who will ascend to feline heaven for reincarnation? Yes, that’s the plot of Cats—and somehow the new trailer for the upcoming live action film adaptation of the famed musical looks even trippier than it sounds.
This week’s release of the teaser for the film—which stars Taylor Swift, Idris Elba, Ian McKellen, James Corden, Jason Derulo, Judi Dench and the Royal Ballet’s Francesca Hayward—had the internet losing its mind, leaving some viewers mystified, others haunted over the unnerving mashup of the actors’ real faces and feline bodies, all cloaked with “digital fur technology.”
As Jennifer Hudson, who plays Grizabella, belts out the musical’s classic song “Memory,” the band of kitties who call themselves the Jellicles twirl through a remarkably large home decked out in opulent shades of burgundy and olive, with bizarrely enormous chandeliers and furniture on which the cats romp.
Many on Twitter voiced uneasiness over the peculiar sexiness of the humanized cats, particularly the breast-like furry mounds on some of their chests, with some wearing jewels and extra fur coats. “My brain has melted. My eyes are bleeding. There is no god,” said one Twitter user, @KristyPuchko. “the CATS trailer is proof of a conspiracy theory I’ve long believed—that rich people have different, much better drugs,” tweeted another, @BrandyLJensen.
Swift plays Bombalurina—the flirty cat, who is sometimes, well, catty—while Dench plays Old Deuteronomy, the boss cat who chooses which feline gets a ticket to the “Heavenside Layer” to be reborn.
The sung-through musical Cats—composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber and based on T.S. Eliot’s poetry collection Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats—premiered at London’s West End in 1981, becoming a decorated global phenomenon and grossing $2 billion worldwide by 1994.
For a time it held the record for the longest-running musical on both Broadway and the West End, and has been translated into 15 languages.
The Universal Pictures feature film directed by Tom Hooper, who did 2012’s Les Miserables, is set to premiere Dec. 20, 2019. But some say their lives already are forever changed only after seeing the fantasy musical’s trailer.
Others acted unmoved. “I don’t know why you’re all freaking out over miniature yet huge cats with human celebrity faces and sexy breasts performing a demented dream ballet for kids,” tweeted @louisvirtel.