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 video version of the stage musical was released in 1998. A film version stuck in Development Hell was finally rescued in 2018, with Tom Hooper directing it for a 2019 release. The musical was a Long Runner in both Broadway and the West End, and a Broadway revival ran in 2016.
Now has a character page that needs some love.
Jellicle Tropes for Jellicle Cats:
- 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. There are quite a few black and white cats in the show.
- This is not entirely the case. "Jellicle Cats are black...and white!" is part of a section introducing many different things Jellicles CAN be. They aren't all black and white; several are explicitly described otherwise. Jennyanydots: "Her coat is of the tabby kind, with tiger stripes, and leopard spots!", and Macavity, "a ginger cat, he's very tall and thin." Bustopher Jones is anything but "small", at that.
- All Musicals Are Adaptations: In this case, an adaptation of a poetry book.
- 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.
- Although some productions include Growltigers Last Stand which features Griddlebone heavily.
- All Witches Have Cats: Inverted. 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.
- Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: The cat chosen at the end of the Jellicle Ball will ascend to the Heavyside Layer, though the real prize is that they get to return and begin a new jellicle life. Grizabella is the winner of this particular night.
- Beyond the Impossible: Macavity has broken every human law, including the law of gravity. When he kidnaps Old Deuteronomy, partially by temporarily pacifying all the cats with mass hypnosis, the Rum Tum Tugger suggests to the cats that an even more impossible solution to Macavity's dastardly deed does exist — asking for the help of a cat who can conjure seven kittens from out of a hat. Mistoffelees, who has spent the entire show demurely wiggling his fingers in the background to magically open car boots and change the stage lighting, rescues Old Deuteronomy by simply teleporting him home from wherever it is Macavity has imprisoned him. While two other cats are implied to have a psychic sixth sense, it's implied only Macavity and Mistoffelees are capable of supernatural feats.
- Break the Haughty: Grizabella has fallen hard from grace, but even when she humbly approaches the Jellicles, they won't accept her.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: The Jellicles, after their opening number, notice the audience's presence.
- Munkustrap helpfully explains the plot to the audience and Old Deuteronomy addresses the audience during the final song.
- Cat Concerto: Basically the whole show; there's even a boot thrown at the singing cats!
- Cat Girl: All female Jellicles, by default, since they are human actors dressed like cats.
- Cats Are Magic: Mr. Mistoffelees, the original conjuring cat. Coricopat, Tantomile and Macavity are also implied to be magical.
- Cats Are Mean: 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.
- Cats Are Snarkers: Bombalurina, Munkustrap and Mr. Mistoffelees bring the snark.
- Cat Stereotype: Most of the cats don't fit any colour stereotypes but, in the video version, there are three cats who do.
- Victoria is the only all-white cat. Her role is performed mainly through dance, where she's implied to be a symbol of grace and innocence, and is extremely sensitive to the moods around her. Her coming-of-age moment sends all the cats into a frenzy. In the filmed stage production, her dance and reaction scenes are often paired with the black Mistoffelees for colour contrast.
- Skimbleshanks is a ginger tom. He's an engaging, cheeky cat who has a reputation for being the hero of the railways; the cats believe the trains only run smoothly because Skimbleshanks is there to keep the humans in line and on the job by either fixing all the problems that crop up or alerting the humans to issues so that they can fix the problems in time. His one flaw is described as being his temper, which gets triggered by disorder; he can be quite draconian about ensuring everything and everyone is kept in order so that the trains can run smoothly.
- Mistoffelees is the only all-black cat, described as being black from his ears to the tip of his tail. note He is the most mystical cat, capable of manipulating light, telekinesis and producing electricity from his paws. He is implied to have some hypnosis, illusion and voice-throwing abilities, he does possess a psychic sixth sense, and is revealed to be capable of teleporting others or himself. In the Invitation to the Jellicle Ball, his dance is paired with the all-white Victoria for colour contrast.
- Composite Character: Gus recalls his playing Growltiger, while both are separate cats in T.S. Eliot's text.
- Dances and Balls: The musical takes place during the annual Jellicle Ball.
- 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". Both characters are tall and thin, with domed foreheads, sunken eyes and heads that sway in a reptilian way.
- 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.
- 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.
- The Eleven O'Clock Number: "Memory" was written specifically because director Trevor Nunn felt the musical needed one of these.
- 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 Rumpus Cat.
- Evil Laugh:
- Macavity. It's the only sound we ever hear him make, and is accompanied with flashing lights and thunder.
- In any production where Gus gives another performance as Growltiger, he inevitably does this at the start of "Growltiger's Last Stand".
- Expy: According to Lloyd Webber, the Rum Tum Tugger is intended to be an expy of Mick Jagger. In the years after the play was originally produced, this has been 'upgraded' to Justin Bieber. The Australian 2016 tour, at least, featured Rum Tum Tugger rapping his solos, wearing a backward baseball cap (with cat ears sticking out!), and 'fur' patterned with tribal tattoos.
- Fantastic Racism: Growltiger hates Persian and Siamese cats.
- Faux Paw: Part of the cast's cat mannerisms, though not all the time.
- Female Gaze: Rum Tum Tugger sure gets quite a lot of these in his big number.
- Food as Bribe: Food is needed to gain a cat's respect, as described by Old Deuteronomy at the end of the show.
- Foreshadowing: Mistoffelees possessing magical powers is foreshadowed before Rum Tum Tugger reveals it. The opening songs state mystical cats exist; when Mukustrap asks Mistoffelees to open the car boot hiding the Gumbie Cat, he does so with magic; Macavity possesses powers of levitation and hypnosis, and vanishes by using electricity as if teleporting; and whenever there's a change in atmosphere symbolising something mystical (such as the approach of Old Deuteronomy), Mistoffelees is always the first to sense it. Mistoffelees ends up showing that he can teleport cats, control light, produce electricity, vanish in a burst of magic as if teleporting, and cats watching his Conjuring Turn get similar shakes to Munkustrap's hypnosis shakes during the Macavity fight.
- Formally Named Pet: The Magical Mr. Mistoffelees (the only one of all the cats in the musical to be named that way).
- Furry Fandom: What would you expect from a show about dancing, anthromorphic cats?
- Harmless Villain: Mungojerie and Rumpelteazer, who sure don't act like devoted servants of Macavity
- The Ingenue: Jemima, who tries to accept Grizabella and seems to tap into the truth of Grizabella's state of mind by joining her in song, becoming the first cat to finally accept her when she helps the struggling Grizabella to finish her climactic song.
- I Was Quite a Looker: Grizabella used to be beautiful but now she's old and ugly.
- 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.
- Loads and Loads of Characters: An ensemble cast with no main character. Featured characters: Munkustrap, Rum Tum Tugger, Gus, Bustopher Jones, Bombalurina, Demeter, Griddlebone, Grizabella, Growltiger, Jellylorum, Jemima, Jennyanydots, Macavity, Mistoffelees, Mungojerrie, Rumpleteazer, Old Deuteronomy, Skimbleshanks, Victoria. Plus a couple more named cats.
- 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.
- 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".
- Only in the filmed production, where this stems from Sir John Mills' poor health not permitting him to perform the followup songs to Gus. In older performances, the song led into the energetic Growltiger, and then Skimbleshanks. In the current version, it builds into Gus performing The Awful Battle of the Pekes and the Pollicles.
- Musicalis Interruptus: During the opening number, someone throws a boot at the singing cats; afterwards, the Jellicles pick up where they left off.
- Noodle Incident: Gus' grandest role, Firefrorefiddle the Fiend of the Fell.
- Obviously Evil: There's an entire passage in "Macavity" that describes how evil Macavity looks.Macavity's a ginger cat, he's very tall and thin
You'd know him if you saw him, for his eyes are sunken in
His brow is deeply lined in 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!
- 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.
- Revenge Ballad: "Growltiger's Last Stand", about the pirate cat Growltiger being finally taken down by his enemies, the Siamese.
- Priceless Ming Vase: Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer brag in their song about how they broke one of these (and probably others like it).
- Relative Button: After Macavity kidnaps and then impersonates Old Deuteronomy, Munkustrap and Alonzo, two of the old cat's sons, are the first to face off against the fiend in feline shape.
- Show Within a Show: "The Awefull Battle of the Pekes and the Pollicles" and "Growltiger's Last Stand".
- Spell My Name with an "S": Was is Mungojerrie or Rumpleteazer? Or Rumpelteazer, or Rumpleteaser, or Rumpelteaser? The original poems use the -el spelling, but the 1998 movie writes it with an -le.
- Stairway to Heaven: Or, more precisely, a tire to heaven. Other productions have their own version, including a ferris wheel gondola in the Swedish version.
- Totally Radical: The short-lived and critically panned hip-hop "street cat" version of Rum Tum Tugger. He refers to himself as the "Jelli-coolest Cat" and calls Old Deuteronomy "Old D".
- 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 Villain Sucks" Song: Macavity, the Mystery Cat. It would be a Villain Song if he himself had sung it.
- You Don't Look Like You: The new version of the Rum Tum Tugger as introduced in the 2014 revival. He is now a cheeky young rapper complete with snapback as opposed to a camp 70s rockstar in his prime. This was received pretty poorly, and he's back to his old Mick Jaggery version for the 2016 Broadway version.