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CATS

Cover to original French cast recording

Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber: Lyrics by T.S. Eliot; Based on the book Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats by T.S. Eliot; Additional lyrics by Trevor Nunn and Richard Stilgoe

New London Theatre, London - 11 May, 1981 - 1 May 2002
Winter Garden Theatre, New York - 7 October, 1982 - 10 September, 2000 (7,485 performances)

Summary:

This all-dance show's action is set on a gigantic rubbish dump which, after dark, becomes alive with cats of all types, shapes and sizes. Soon there are cats all over the place, including the auditorium, gathering for the Jellicle Ball during which one cat will be selected by the Jellicle Leader and allotted an extra precious life. It is the former glamour cat, Grizabella - turned dishevelled outcast who, at the end of the evening, is chosen by Deuteronomy to receive the prized additional life.

Story:

It's the night of the Jellicle Ball. The cat clan has gathered for the annual event at which the revered elder Old Deuteronomy chooses the most deserving cat to ascend with him for a heavenly reward. The cats have gathered, and one by one, we learn about their personalities, exactly as T. S. Eliot portrayed them in his book of poems. Jennyanydots, Cassandra, Bombalurina, and Jellylorum are the first to strut their stuff. They welcome Rum Turn Tugger, a rock-star-idol type of cat, creating just the right mood for the arrival of Grizabella, the Glamour Cat. She is an aging beauty who has roamed some of the lowest alleys.

The younger felines mock and avoid her. Bustopher Jones, mature and well-rounded, catches everyone's eye with his natty clothes and well-groomed look. Mungojerrie and Rumple teazer, two mischievous, fun-loving cats, provide a light moment before Old Deuteronomy arrives and sets a more serious tone for the ball. Barred from the festivities, Grizabella reflects on her memory of happier times and the new life that could be ahead. Also on the sidelines, Gus the Theatre Cat finds fault with the lack of dedication he perceives in today's actors and reminisces about some of his finest roles. In Skimbleshanks the Railway Cat, we find great pride and commitment in doing the rela tively small job of keeping a single train on schedule. Macavity, the "fiend in feline shape, a monster of depravity," is talked about in hushed voices. "Was there ever a cat so clever as magical Mr. Mistoffelees?" Yes, and much to the delight of all he bursts upon the scene. Still it is Grizabella that demonstrates the greatest depth of character and need. She is chosen to accompany Old Deuteronomy on this year's accension "up, up, up, past the Russell Hotel. Up, up, up to the Heaviside layer."

Before their departure Old Deuteronomy summarizes Eliot's lifelong passion for paralleling catlike names and attributes to people he had observed:

"You've heard of several kinds of cat, And my opinion now is that You should need no interpreter To understand our character. You've learned enough to take the view That cats are very much like you."

Principal Characters:

Grizabella
Rum Tum Tugger
Asparagus
Growltiger
Mister Mistoffolees
Deuteronomy
Skimbleshanks
Rumpleteazer
Mungojerrie
Munkustrap
Jennyamydots

Musical Numbers:

  • Act I

    1. Overture – Orchestra
    2. "Prologue: Jellicle Songs for Jellicle Cats" – The Company
    3. "The Naming of Cats" – The Company
    4. "The Invitation to the Jellicle Ball" – Victoria, Quaxo, Munkustrap
    5. "The Old Gumbie Cat" – Jennyanydots, Munkustrap, Bombalurina, Jellylorum, Demeter
    6. "The Rum Tum Tugger" – Rum Tum Tugger and Company
    7. "Grizabella: The Glamour Cat" – Grizabella, Demeter, Bombalurina
    8. "Bustopher Jones: The Cat About Town" – Bustopher, Jennyanydots, Jellylorum, Bombalurina
    9. "Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer" – Mungojerrie, Rumpleteazer
    10. "Old Deuteronomy" – Munkustrap, Rum Tum Tugger, Old Deuteronomy
    11. "The Awful Battle of The Pekes and the Pollicles" – Munkustrap, Rumpus Cat and Company
    12. "The Song of the Jellicles" – The Company
    13. "The Jellicle Ball" – Orchestra
    14. "Grizabella, The Glamour Cat" (Reprise) – Grizabella
    15. "Memory" – Grizabella

    Act II

    1. "The Moments of Happiness"/"Memory" – Old Deuteronomy, Jemima
    2. "Gus: The Theatre Cat" – Asparagus, Jellylorum
    3. *"Growltiger's Last Stand", incorporating either 'The Ballad Of Billy M'Caw' or the Italian aria 'In Una Tepida Notte' – Growltiger, Griddelbone, Ghengis, the Siamese, the Crew
    4. "Gus: The Theater Cat" (Reprise) – Asparagus
    5. "Skimbleshanks: The Railway Cat" – Skimbleshanks and Company
    6. "Macavity: The Mystery Cat" – Demeter, Bombalurina
    7. "Macavity Fight" – Macavity, Munkustrap, Alonzo
    8. "Mr. Mistoffelees" – Quaxo, otherwise known as Mr. Mistoffelees, Rum Tum Tugger
    9. "Jellicle Choice"/"Daylight" – Munkustrap and Jemima
    10. "Memory" (Reprise) – Grizabella, Jemima
    11. "The Journey to the Heaviside Layer" – The Company
    12. "Finale: The Ad-Dressing of Cats" – Old Deuteronomy
  • Instrumentation

    Tenor/soprano/flute, trumpet/piccolo/trumpet, trumpet/flugel, flute/ baritone/soprano/clarinet, cello, percussion, trombone/euphonium, horns, oboe/cor anglais, keyboards (4), electric/ acoustic guitar, bass guitar/ string bass, four pit voices.

    Casting

    22 parts (doubling is written for 5 characters), 4 principals; however, every part is featured. Virtually all parts are for strong dancers who sing exceptionally well.

    Grizabella, actress/ dancer with lilting voice.
    Old Deuteronomy, actor with robust basso voice.
    Rum Turn Tugger, dynamic actor with rock-type personality who sings and dances.

    Mistoffelees, Jellylorum, Bombalurina, Cassandra, Demeter, Jennyanydots, featured dancers who sing.

    Scenes and settings

    2 acts, large unit set depicting an oversized junk yard containing old auto wheels and parts, bottles, household trash (including catfood boxes and tins), shoes, other discards. Pirate ship. Full moon on backdrop.

    Period and Costumes

    1939, or the present, or a time in space. Costumes are a major part of the Cats concept. Body suits or leotards are the basis of most costumes, painted appropriately for each character. Each has a fuzzy tail and is cinched with a gold chain belt. Matching leg-warmers and similar knit-tubes for wrists and lower arms. Wigs and fur enhance makeup and complete the catlike transformations. Gus the Theatre Cat, Old Deuteronomy and several others have coats made of fake fur. Grizabella has straggly fur cape, tattered feather headdress. Siamese headdresses for Siamese cats. Bulldog heads, Raggedy Ann and Andytype costumes à la comic strips. Growltiger, tigerstriped fake fur outfit, goggled eye, flylike mask and headdress, vest. Mr. Mistoffelees, stretch satin/ fur outfit, many collars, Old Deuteronomy's cloak.

    Choreography

    Jazz, acrobatic, modern ballet, tap, and production numbers.

    LIGHTING AND SPECIAL EFFECTS:

    Lighting for an eerie nocturnal environment-huge backlighted moon, strings of colored lights, a ring of spotlights above center stage, smoke and fog effects. Christmas lights.

    NOTES: Cats is a production spectacle. The T. S. Eliot lyrics are greatly enhanced by the Webber score, but it's the costume/ makeup and dynamic production concepts that hold everything together and make the show work.