Acting for Two: Standard practice in all productions, although which cats the actors double for tend to vary (Bustopher Jones and Old Deuteronomy are almost always the same actor). In all productions with "Growltiger's Last Stand," Asparagus and Jellyorum double as Growltiger and Griddlebone.
Except for in the video production; the late Sir John Mills was too ill to perform the necessary choreography.
Well, in the Japanese productions they just sorta replace the names. Leading to chorus cats being called Rumpus and Macavity. Genghis even has his own character even.
As well as them having both Jemima and Sillabub.
In some productions, the same actor portrays Bustopher Jones, The Rumpus Cat, and Asparagus (who goes on to play Growltiger).
Adaptation Expansion: "What's a jellicle cat", indeed. Mr. Eliot's poems make perfectly and explicitly clear what a jellicle cat is: it is, very specifically, a small black-and-white cat. No more, no less, and nothing else.
A whole stage of only black-and-white cats wouldn't be much to look at (or it might...I mean, it's people dressed head to toe as cats). Not that that whole book of poems is about only black-and-white cats. To be fair, there are quite a few black and white cats in the show.
Amusement Park: The Swedish version takes place in one closed down for the winter.
Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Macavity has broken every human law, disappears from every crime scene, and the Villain Song takes place directly after he's kidnapped the tribe leader. Oh, and he cheats at cards.
Cats Are Magic: Mr. Mistoffelees, the original conjuring cat. Macavity is also implied to have them.
Cats Are Mean: Averted, although Macavity is a jerk of the first magnitude and everyone assumes this about Grizabella. Cats, however, are ultimately not that different from people, according to the final number.
Composite Character: Gus recalls his playing Growltiger, while both are separate cats in T.S. Eliot's text.
Cut Song: Depending on the production, either "The Awefull Battle of The Pekes and the Pollicles" or "Growltiger's Last Stand" is left out. The 1998 production, for example, cut the latter song out, but a few productions do put in both.
Most recent tours cut out "The Pekes and the Pollicles", but strangely enough, there is still usually an entry in the cast list for the Great Rumpus Cat.
Additionally, most productions cut a verse out of "Mungojerrie and Rumpelteazer", though there's not really a consistency on which verse.
Much of Mistoffelees' dance solo from his title song was cut in the video production.
There was a bit called "The Ballad of Billy McCaw", that was supposed to be Growltiger & Griddlebone's "last duet", and took place in the middle of "Growltiger's Last Stand". The bit was replaced by the "In Una Tepida Notte".
Deus ex Machina: Magical Mr Mistoffelees, his magical powers allow him to conjure up Old Deuteronomy and return the lights after Macavity kidnaps him and destroys them.
Deadpan Snarker: Munkustrap has his moments, particularly while directing the Rumpus Cat.
Decomposite Character: From the video production; on stage, the character of Gus is usually depicted as a young cat but becomes an older cat for his big number. This number usually segues into another number with the younger version, "Growltiger's Last Stand". The older version was played by Sir John Mills, who was far too old, and blind, to do the required singing and dancing. So, they split both versions into two characters, with the younger Gus now named Asparagus.
And they say that all the cats Whose wicked deeds are widely known (I might mention Mungojerrie, I might mention Griddlebone) Are nothing more than agents For the cat who all the time Controls their operations The Napoleon of Crime!
Macavity's a ginger cat, He's very tall and thin. You would know him if you saw him, For his eyes are sunken in. His brow is deeply lined with thought, His head is highly domed, His coat is dusty from neglect, His whiskers are uncombed. He sways his head from side to side, With movements like a snake. And when you think he's half asleep, He's always wide awake!
He is extremely tall and thin, his forehead domes out in a white curve, and his two eyes are deeply sunken in this head. He is clean-shaven, pale, and ascetic-looking, retaining something of the professor in his features. His shoulders are rounded from much study, and his face protrudes forward, and is forever slowly oscillating from side to side in a curiously reptilian fashion.
Karma Houdini: Macavity has "broken every human law", terrorized the Jellicles, and kidnapped Old Deuteronomy. He never pays for any of his crimes in the course of the musical, and his theme song suggests that he never has.
The rock'n'rollin' "The Rum Tum Tugger" is followed by the somber "Grizabella: The Glamour Cat," and that is followed by the peppy "Bustopher Jones: The Cat About Town." The musical score hangs a lampshade on this fact at the opening of "Bustopher Jones" with notes about how to play the piece: "A little hesistantly, as though the orchestra is changing the subject."
Another example lies with "Gus: The Theatre Cat". After the extremely sad ending to the song, the music immediately changes to the happy, fun "Skimbleshanks: The Railway Cat".
Musicalis Interruptus: During the opening number, someone drops a boot during the song; afterwards, the Jellicles pick up where they left off.
Non-Singing Voice: In the video version, Veerle Casteleyn as Jemima was dubbed by Helen Massey because she was worried her Dutch accent wouldn't be understandable in her solos, while Geoffrey Garratt as Skimbleshanks was dubbed by David Arneill in order to give him a Scottish accent. Of course, given the nature of the show, they pretty much have no voice.
Noodle Incident: Gus' grandest role, Firefrorefiddle the Fiend of the Fell.
Only Sane Man: Doubly present in the "Pekes and the Pollicles" segment. First, the Rumpus Cat is the only one animal not barking insanely at all the others. Secondly (with the exception of Rum Tum Tugger, who's playing the bagpipes) Munkustrap, being the narrator, and Deuteronomy, who is listening to the story, are the only cats who aren't dressed up in an absolutely ridiculous getup ON TOP of the the cat costumes.
Demeter's accent when she says 'Macavity!' varies between French and American, and it's all over the place during the Villain Song. It can be considered a bit of an enhancement to the song, given how nice her voice sounds in the first place.
Rumpleteazer's voice as a chorus cat and in the introduction completely drops the cockney accent she bears in her own song. This aided people thinking she was dubbed, though her vocal credit was only for dubbed giggles.
The Pete Best: Judi Dench was supposed to play both Grizabella and Jennyanydots on the West End, but ruptured her Achilles' tendon during rehearsals. Her roles were split between two other actresses... and Elaine Paige, who took over Grizabella, became an even-bigger star as a result.
Priceless Ming Vase: Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer brag in their song about how they broke one of these (and probably others like it).
Wide-Eyed Idealist: Jemima. Its stated on That Other Wiki that when her character is cast, they choose actresses with large eyes for that big eyed, innocent look. Considering the first person in that role was Sarah Brightman, the bar for big eyes must have been set pretty high afterward.
Woman in White: Victoria the kitten, the first cat to accept Grizabella.
Written-In Infirmity: Averted; Sir John Mills, who played Gus in the video version, was blind during filming, but his condition was in no ways hinted at in the film, though it is relatively obvious if you know the signs.