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Theatre: Cats
The cast of the Broadway production.

If you came here looking for tropes about cats, see This Index Meows.

There's a man over there with a look of surprise.
As much as to say well now how about that?
Do I actually see with my own very eyes,
A man who's not heard of a jellicle cat?
What's a jellicle cat? What's a jellicle cat?
— From the opening number, "Jellicle Songs for Jellicle Cats."

Andrew Lloyd Webber's other most famous musical. It's a show about cats. More precisely, it's about a tribe of cats, the Jellicle Cats, and the once-a-year event where the Jellicle Leader, Old Deuteronomy, announces the cat who can now be reborn and come back in a different Jellicle Life, after the cats spend time introducing themselves, and their fellow cats, through song. It's based, pretty much, on T. S. Eliot's book of poems Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats.

A film was in production eons ago, but it never got off the ground. A video version of the stage musical was released in 1998.


This show features examples of:

  • 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.
    • Plato is also often double cast for Macavity as well as Alonzo or Admetus being double cast as The Rumpus Cat... Except in the Japanese productions.
      • 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.
  • All of the Other Reindeer: The Cats don't really like Grizabella. Allegedly she used to be a rather snobbish diva, but we never really see that side of her onstage, so one must take their word on it
  • All-Star Cast: Invoked in the Video Version, which cast notable cast members throughout the show's history in both Broadway and West End (And John Mills).
  • All There in the Script: Anything pertaining to Griddlebone, save her few lines in Macavity's Villain Song.
  • All Cats Have Witches: A couplet in the "Jellicle Songs for Jellicle Cats" goes "Can you ride on a broomstick, to places far distant?/Familiar with candle, with book and with bell?" and refers to cats being traditionally associated with witches, demons and magic.
  • 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.
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: Grizabella.
  • Attention Whore: The Rum Tum Tugger.
  • Big Eater: Bustopher Jones, "a twenty-five pounder" who's "putting on weight every day." An entire section of his song is him listing all pubs and restaurants he goes to in a day.
  • Beyond the Impossible: Macavity has broken every human law, including the law of gravity.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: The Jellicles, after their opening number, notice the audience's presence.
  • Butt Monkey: Pouncival and Tumblebrutus in the video, though the former more than the latter.
  • Cat Concerto: Basically the whole show. There's even a boot thrown at the singing cats!
  • Cat Girl: All female Jellicles, by default.
  • 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.
  • Cool Cat: The entire cast.
  • 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".
  • Dances and Balls: The Jellicle Ball.
  • 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.
  • Diabolical Mastermind: Macavity, Macavity, there's no one like Macavity. He's basically the feline version of Professor James Moriarty. His description was lifted almost word-for-word from "The Adventure of the Final Problem":
    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!
    Compare with
    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.
  • Distracted by the Sexy:
    • The Rum-Tum-Tugger's butt-shake apparently has a hypnotic effect on female cats, considering that he usually has a gaggle of them staring at it.
    • Not to mention the fascination with Bombalurina and Demeter's crotches the cameraman suddenly has when they're singing "Macavity".
  • The Dreaded: Macavity. When he's mentioned there's sirens, thunder, lightning, and that disembodied laugh.
  • Epic Rocking: "Memory", also The Eleven O'Clock Number.
  • Everything's Louder With Bagpipes: Rum Tum Tugger does a bagpipe solo during "The Pekes and The Pollicles." It gets funny when he does it during Munkustrap's dance with Rumpuscat.
  • Evil Laugh: Macavity. It's the only sound we ever hear him make, and is accompanied with flashing lights and thunder.
  • Expy: According to Lloyd Webber, the Rum Tum Tugger is intended to be an expy of Mick Jagger.
  • Fantastic Racism: Growltiger hates Persian and Siamese cats.
  • Faux Paw
  • Formally Named Pet: The Magical Mr. Mistoffelees (the only one of all the cats in the musical to be named that way).
  • Funny Background Event: Watch closely and you see some pretty surprising stuff...
  • Furry Fandom: What would expect from a show about dancing, anthromorphic cats?
  • Genki Girl: Rumpleteazer and Etcetera.
  • "I Am" Song: Mainly, it's a show of You Are Songs.
  • The Ingenue: Jemima, the only other cat besides Victoria, who tries to accept Grizabella.
  • I Was Quite a Looker/Princess in Rags/White-Dwarf Starlet: All three apply to Grizabella.
  • 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.
  • Karmic Death: Growltiger.
  • Long Runners: Both Broadway and West End! In fact, the Broadway production was the longest running musical there until another Lloyd Webber standard caught up.
  • Long Title: "Of the Awful Battle of the Pekes and the Pollicles, Together With Some Account of Participation of the Pugs and the Poms and the Intervention of the Great Rumpuscat".
  • Meaningful Name: The main point of the opening poem. The name is secret, though.
  • Mega Neko: Naturally.
  • Melancholy Moon: Just turn your face to the moon, Grizabella...
  • Mood Whiplash:
    • 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".
  • Mr. Fanservice: Rum Tum Tugger is quite the lady's cat.
  • Ms. Fanservice: The sensuous Bombalurina.
  • 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.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping:
    • 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.
  • Priceless Ming Vase: Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer brag in their song about how they broke one of these (and probably others like it).
  • The Quiet One:
    • Victoria and Plato.
    • Electra is often described as a sombre kitten.
  • Quirky Miniboss Squad/Those Two Guys/Harmless Villain: Mungojerie and Rumpelteazer, who sure don't act like devoted servants of Macavity.
  • Show Within a Show: "The Pekes and the Pollicles" and "Gus: The Theatre Cat".
  • Stairway to Heaven: Or, more precisely, a tire to heaven. Other versions have their own version, including a ferris wheel gondola in the Swedish version.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: After the great Rumpus cat's number, he doesn't really have a choreographed exit. So once it finishes, he just sits down among all the other cats and attempts to discreetly make his way offscreen.
  • The Voiceless: Macavity. He gives a few villainous laughs, but he never joins the Jellicles in song.
  • Villain Song: "Mungojerie and Rumpelteazer". Subverted for the reasons above.
  • The Villain Sucks Song: Macavity, the Mystery Cat. It would be a Villain Song if he himself had sung it.
  • Walk the Plank: Growltiger's final fate.
  • 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.

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alternative title(s): Cats
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