British pop star Leona Lewis will make her Broadway debut in the forthcoming revival of hit musical Cats.
The Bleeding Love hitmaker recently became the frontrunner to take on the role of Grizabella in Andrew Lloyd Webber's new production, after singer/actress Nicole Scherzinger bowed out of plans to reprise the character she had played during the show's West End run in 2014.
On Thursday (26May16), the casting news was made official and Leona couldn't be happier.
"Can't even believe this," she gushed on Twitter.com. "I'm thrilled & honored to announce I'll be playing the part of Grizabella in @CatsBroadway!"
In a statement, the 31-year-old added, "It is an incredible honor to be asked by Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber to join the Cats family. I will never forget seeing the show as a little girl and how blown away I was by the magical experience of it.
"I am beyond thrilled for my Broadway debut to be in such an iconic show. To work with a team as legendary as those on Cats is an experience I will cherish every moment of. I cannot wait to see the audiences out in NYC!"
"Leona has one of the greatest voices of her generation," praised theatre mogul Lord Lloyd Webber. "We are all hugely excited about working with her."
The new Cats line-up will also feature Giuseppe Bausilio as Carbucketty, Quentin Earl Darrington as Old Deuteronomy, Jeremy Davis as Skimbleshanks, Ricky Ubeda as Mistoffelees, and Jess LeProtto as Mungojerrie.
Trevor Nunn, who took charge of the original 1982 run and the recent West End shows, will be back to direct the latest revival, while Hamilton's Andy Blankenbuehler will choreograph the show.
Preview performances will begin at the Neil Simon Theatre on 14 July (16), ahead of its grand opening on 31 July (16).
The previous Cats production became the fourth longest-running show in Broadway history, before closing in 2000 after 18 years.
The news of Leona's casting emerges two weeks after Andrew blasted Nicole as "crazy" for pulling out of the Broadway gig in favour of returning to U.K. talent show The X Factor as a judge.
He told The Economist Radio: "I'm furious because I really believe she's the most fantastically talented girl and I went out on a limb to get her for the London Palladium (West End shows) here, and it makes me look like an absolute twot (idiot) with them all (Broadway producers)... But never mind, there'll be another girl on Broadway and Nicole will not get her Tony Award."
The 37-year-old pop star responded to his cutting comments by insisting she had never officially signed on to appear in Cats on Broadway.
"The contract was never finalised," she told the Evening Standard earlier this month (May16). "I am incredibly blessed to be given so many amazing opportunities, including Cats, but unfortunately we weren't able to make it work this time around...
"I adore and respect Andrew, I'm so grateful for our friendship and can't wait for the opportunity to create more magic together."