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Dame Judi Dench Reveals She's Relieved She Couldn't Appear in CATS

Dame Judi Dench stopped in at the Borough of Manhattan Community College as part of her press rounds to promote her upcoming film Victoria & Abdul. According to the NY Daily News, the legendary actress revealed some fascinating tidbits about herself.

In the discussion, she mentioned the fact that she was cast in the original West End production of CATS as Jennyanydots and Grizabella. She was, unfortunately, unable to take it on when she tore her achilles tendon. The role was filled by Elaine Paige.

Was Dench disappointed? Hardly. "I went to see it," she said, "and thought 'I'm glad I wasn't in that.'"

To read more about Dench's visit and her former enjoyment in embroidering pillows with curse words, visit the NY Daily News here.

Victoria & Abdul recounts the fascinating and true tale of a penniless young Indian man, Abdul Karim (Ali Fazal), who finds favour with a monarch who ruled over about a quarter of the globe at the time, including Abdul's colonized homeland. Chosen to present a ceremonial coin on behalf of British India to the Queen as a part of her Golden Jubilee in 1887, Adbul travels from his home in what is now Uttar Pradesh to London for this relatively straightforward, but ultimately intimidating, task. Job done, he just wants to return home, but the elderly Victoria, smitten with him in a maternal way, requests that he stay on as a kind of advisor. In no time he is cooking her curries, talking to her about his culture, and being elevated to the post of official clerk, or Munshi, becoming an indispensable part of the household - and state.

Over the past decade, Stephen Frears, one of Britain's most durable and exciting filmmakers, has made a specialty of directing superb films about spirited septuagenarian women both royal (The Queen) and (not really so) common (Mrs. Henderson Presents, Philomena, Florence Foster Jenkins). This new romp through the staterooms of 19th-century England returns to the former, with a seventysomething Queen Victoria (Dame Judi Dench) as one of its eponymous subjects. There is another theme to Victoria & Abdul that neatly ties into the arc of Frears' filmography: that of race.

Frears gives Victoria & Abdul a light, comedic touch, moving brilliantly through the crusty English aristocracy while offering an endearing princess-and-pauper tale.

Photo Credit: Walter McBride / WM Photos

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