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Walworth/Wayne Central grad plays Maitre d’ in new “Cats” movie

by WayneTimes.com
November 23, 2019

Cory English, a native of Walworth, NY, Wayne Central graduate and former student of Sandy Stramonine School of Dance...has earned quite the resume of drama, dance, acting, singing and theatre.

We recently interviewed the Broadway and beyond actor about his role in the upcoming holiday movie extravagana “Cats.” ...the Movie”.

How did you hear of the opportunity to audition for Cats?

I was at the barbers with the boys on a Friday afternoon. My agent rang me and asked me if I could be at Warner Brothers studio that night at 8 o’clock for an audition for CATS ..... the Film.

After wrangling up some childcare, I was able to say yes.

We didn’t actually even audition until 10 o’clock that night because the director was rehearsing with Jennifer Hudson. It was all so very surreal. There were five of us and we had a blast auditioning...all very much for supporting each other.

When did you hear back? Did you have a role in mind?

I was very fortunate to get the gig and I started rehearsing on that Sunday.

The director, Tom Hooper, was looking for someone who could be James Cordon’s sidekick. He’s playing the role of Bustopher Jones - who likes to eat - and my character,  Maitre d’ , shows him where to get his food.

I was initially hired for the scenes with him - two weeks of filming. But after the first week of rehearsals, they asked me to do the entire film. Which turned into 5 months of long days of hard work, confusion and lots of fun.

Where did you shoot the film?

All the scenes were shot in London at Warner Brothers studio - where they shot Harry Potter. Rehearsals began in November 2018 and we ended filming in March 2019.

Some days I had to leave my house at 4:30am to be in the make up chair for 5:15. (Luckily, I live close.) At first the make up took about an hour, but then by the end, my make up artist got it down to 30 minutes.

All of the film is computer generated, so we were all dressed in florescent green or gray unitards with tiny orange  squares all over. But they could not  get the faces right so we were made up. There was some green screen, but for the most part there was incredible sets.

The sets were built 6 times as large as normal due to its being in perspective of cats. Amazing design!

Who did you work with most closely? What an amazing set of stars!

The amount of talent that was on this set was overwhelming. Every dancer, actor, acrobat, free runners .... etc. were at the top of their fields.

Unfortunately all this talent was not able to fit in the film.. There are some incredible feats dancing and singing in the film. It was wonderful to be around that kind of Talent.

I am in some of the big dance numbers, but the audience probably won’t  see me as much as the young fit cats... There are a lot of us.

A good deal of my stuff was with Dame Judi Dench and James Corden. To listen to stories from Dame Judi had me in awe and pinching myself daily. She’s so down to earth.

I do sing a few lines in James Corden’s song. In one scene, he wanted to much out on the food, so he told the director “Let’s have Cory sing this verse”...Very nice of him. (But you never know what happens in the final edit).

Working beside James Corden and working out funny gags and bits made the 16 hour long days go fast.

I really wanted  the show on Broadway. I never got into the show back in the late 1980s. I auditioned numerous times and was never able to get in. I even lied and said I could do a backhand spring and landed on my head trying at the audition. After that I said I don’t tumble..... and never auditioned again.

It’s been an unforgettable job and I’ve made so many amazing memories. Certainly a highlight of my career.

What are you doing these days?

Presently I am rehearsing to go into CURTAINS the musical, in the West End. It’s just a short two week run playing the role of Oscar Shapiro. I’m covering someone who is going on vacation.

In February I begin rehearsals for a Tony Award winning play called INDECENT. The Broadway team is coming over to put it on in London. I’m very excited about this play.

Sara (Sara Alexander, Cory’s actress/author wife) is doing a tour of a play that’s called “A  Strange Tale of Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel”  - an intriguing story of the two of them.

She’s working on her 4th novel as well.

As for our sons...Sammy just turned 13 and is drumming his heart out.  Cosmo is a dancing, soccer-playing warrior at the moment. We always find time for baseball though.

Over the Christmas holiday, I may have time to stop home in Walworth for a short time.

***************************

Just some of  Cory’s theatre and film credits include:  GUYS & DOLLS  at the Royal Albert Hall, and on Broadway DRIVING  MISS DAISY as Boolie, Daisy’s son at York Theatre Royal,  THE PRODUCERS as Max Bialystock on the UK Tour,  URINETOWN - Touring Company - West End and UK, YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN as Igor on Broadway and in the Touring Company, THE PRODUCERS as Max Bialystock Theatre Royal, West End, GUYS & DOLLS as Benny Southstreet at the Picadilly Theatre, West End, CHICAGO as Amos, Adelphi Theatre, West End and on  Broadway, A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM, as Protean / Hero on Broadway,  HELLO DOLLY as Barnaby on Broadway, DAMN YANKEES as Bubba on Broadway,  HOME PLAY in the Ensemble,  Broadway, GYPSY as Flagstaff on Broadway...and ON TV:  OZ as Aryan, HBO Productions, ON FILM:  THE CONJURING 2 as Skeptic Kaplan for Warner Bros / New Line Cinema. 

---------------------------------------

CATS is an upcoming musical fantasy film, based on the stage musical of the same name by Andrew Lloyd Webber, which in turn was based on the 1939 poetry collection Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats by T. S. Eliot.

Cats is scheduled for release on December 20, 2019, by Universal Pictures. Music: Andrew Lloyd Webber,  Directed by: Tom Hooper, Distributor: Universal Pictures. Just some of the stars: Taylor Swift as the flirtatious Bombalurina, Royal Ballet principle dancer Francesca Hayward, playing the timid young kitten Victoria. Jennifer Hudson belt out “Memory” as Grizabella, while a fur coat clad Judi Dench stars as Old Deuteronomy. Also notable in the cast: Idris Elba as Macavity, James Corden as Bustopher Jones, Rebel Wilson as Jennyanydots, Jason Derulo as Rum Tum Tugger, and Ian McKellan as Gus the Theatre Cat.

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