Synopsis

When Cats Are Maddened By The Midnight Dance

It is midnight and all is quiet. Suddenly a car is heard and a hissing cat is caught in its headlights.

One by one the cats appear. At first they are wary of their human audience, but they soon relax and sing about themselves, Jellicle Songs for Jellicle Cats.

As they reach the end of the first song one of the cats spots a man who has not heard of a Jellicle Cat. They are shocked and proceed to recite The Naming of Cats, telling the audience that a Cat must have three different names; a sensible one that the family use daily, a more particular name and a third name that keeps the cat in profound meditation and will never be confessed.

Victoria performs a solo dance and Munkustrap, together with Mr. Mistoffelees, gives the Invitation to the Jellicle Ball. They tell the audience that tonight is a special night when all the Jellicles gather and the Jellicle leader, Old Deuteronomy, will announce the cat who will ascend to the Heaviside Layer and be re-born.

Some of the cats step forward to audition for this privilege. Munkustrap, with some help from Demeter, Bombalurina and Jellylorum, introduces The Old Gumbie Cat, Jennyanydots. All day she, like all Gumbie cats, sits and sits and sits and sits, but at night she teaches the mice music, crocheting and tatting and runs a troupe of boy-scout cockroaches, who perform their beetles' tattoo.

Just as the song is finishing, another Cat makes a dramatic entrance. It is The Rum Tum Tugger, a curious, rock-star cat who never wants what he is given and only likes what he finds for himself. All the female cats adore him, especially Bombalurina and the kittens, and the young male cats adore him as well.

Tugger is not happy when he is interrupted by Grizabella, the Glamour Cat. She is shunned by the tribe because she left them, years ago, to explore the world beyond the city. Now she wants to rejoin her family. Some of the kittens try to touch her, but are pulled away by the older cats. Demeter sings of Grizabella's past and the old Cat leaves.

The mood changes as Bustopher Jones, the Cat about Town, appears. Jennyanydots, Bombalurina and Jellylorum tell the audience that he is a twenty-five pounder who spends his days dining in the clubs of London. He is the cat they all greet when he walks down the street wearing his trademark white spats.

Once again the song is interrupted. This time a loud and sinister laugh is heard. Demeter announces that it is Macavity and all the cats scatter.

A loud giggle and "Shh!" signal the entrance of Mungojerrie and Rumpelteazer, a playful, but troublesome, young duo whose greatest delight is destroying their owners' house. They are chased out of the junkyard by the other cats who are annoyed at their prank, but, as usual, there's nothing at all to be done about it.

The mood changes again as music fills the air. Mistoffelees, Tantomile and Coricopat sense that Old Deuteronomy is on his way to the Ball and Mistoffelees goes to greet him. Meanwhile the other cats spruce themselves up while Munkustrap and Rum Tum Tugger sing about the Jellicle leader.

When he arrives all the cats gather round him, bowing and shaking his paw. Then Munkustrap reminds the cats of the Jellicle choice to be made just before dawn. For Old Deuteronomy's entertainment the cats perform a play, The Awefull Battle of the Pekes and the Pollicles, narrated by Munkustrap. The cats dress up as dogs and bark at each other until The Great Rumpus Cat appears and frightens them away.

When the play is over Old Deuteronomy gives a short speech to remind the cats of their mortality, but he too is interrupted by loud noises and lightning. This time it really is Macavity and the cats run and hide.

Old Deuteronomy coaxes them back and they sing The Song of the Jellicles before The Jellicle Ball takes place. In the middle of the Ball Victoria and one of the male cats perform a dance together and then settle down with the other cats for a short rest.

All of a sudden Tantomile, Coricopat and Mistoffelees wake up. They sense that something is not right. Mistoffelees spots Grizabella and she runs off as the cats start to dance again, faster this time and more energetic.

When the Ball has ended the cats gather round Old Deuteronomy, but Grizabella appears once more. Some of the kittens try to touch her, but she is given the cold shoulder by the other cats. All except Old Deuteronomy leave and he watches her as she dances a sad shadow of the Jellicle Ball. She sings her haunting song, Memory and Old Deuteronomy is moved by it. He reaches out to touch her, then changes his mind and she leaves again.

Why Will The Summer Day Delay, When Will Time Flow Away

Slowly the cats return and Old Deuteronomy invites them to ponder The Moments of Happiness. He sends his thoughts through the earth to Coricopat, Tantomile and Jemima. They link hands and Jemima sings to the tune of Memory, later being joined by the other cats.

After this the auditions continue as Jellylorum introduces Gus, the Theatre Cat, whose name was quite famous in its time, but he now suffers from palsy and is so poor he cannot afford a drink. He says, however, that he once played Growltiger and could do it again.

He and Jellylorum play Growltiger, a Bravo Cat, and Griddlebone, his lover, in Growltiger's Last Stand. Some of the male cats dress up as his pirates and the other cats play the Siamese who attack Growltiger's barge. Just before the Siamese attack Growltiger and Griddlebone sing their last duet, The Ballad of Billy McCaw (or In Quella Tepida Notte). Then the Siamese, led by Ghengis, swarm aboard and Growltiger is forced to walk the plank.

Gus is upset by the realisation that his glory days are all but over and he leaves the junkyard.

The cats are saddened by this, but Old Deuteronomy reminds them of Skimbleshanks, the Railway Cat, who is a friendly uncle to all the cats. He sings his song about his job on the midnight mail and the cats make a train out of the rubbish in the junkyard.

Macavity disturbs them again and this time he mesmerises the cats, allowing his henchrats to kidnap Old Deuteronomy.

Demeter and Bombalurina sing a duet about Macavity, who is also called the Hidden Paw for he's a master criminal who can defy the law and when you reach the scene of crime Macavity's not there. The bad deeds committed by such cats as Mungojerrie and Griddlebone are all done for Macavity and so he is dubbed the Napoleon of Crime.

The song finishes and Old Deuteronomy appears, but Demeter senses that something is wrong. She leaps onto his back and reveals Macavity!

He tries to carry her off, but Alonzo rescues her. Munkustrap fights the wild, red cat, but he is injured and Alonzo takes over. Finally, with help from most of the other cats, Macavity is wounded and rigs an electrical explosion which shorts out the lights and allows him to make his escape.

The cats still have to find Old Deuteronomy and Tugger suggests they ask the magical Mr. Mistoffelees, the original conjuring Cat. He begins the song and then Mr. Mistoffelees appears. He shows off his magic tricks before bringing Old Deuteronomy back.

While the cats welcome him back, Jemima announces the dawn, singing to the tune of Memory again, and Munkustrap announces that Old Deuteronomy will make the Jellicle choice. All the cats gather round their leader, hoping to be chosen, and are annoyed by the arrival of Grizabella. The cats stay in the junkyard this time, but turn their backs on her.

Old Deuteronomy invites her to sing and her song, Memory, endears the cats to her. They turn to face her one by one and just as she has given up hope and collapsed to the ground, Jemima sings once more. Grizabella stands and continues her song. If you touch me, she tells the cats, you'll find out the meaning of happiness.

Victoria approaches and places her paw in Grizabella's. Immediately Grizabella is accepted back into the tribe and some of the other Cats also shake paws with her. Munkustrap leads her to Old Deuteronomy and the Cats sing The Journey to the Heaviside Layer. Grizabella has been chosen to go up, up, up past the Russell Hotel and the Jellicle Moon to the Heaviside Layer. She and Old Deuteronomy are taken up by a magically levitating tyre and Grizabella ascends the staircase to Cat heaven.

The night is nearly over, but Old Deuteronomy has a few more things to say. He stands atop the tyre and sings The Ad-dressing of Cats to remind the Jellicles of their rights as Cats. The Cats repeat his words and the audience is told that they should ad-dress a Cat, but always keep in mind that he resents familiarity. Old Deuteronomy believes that Cats are very much like you. When you meet a Cat you bow, take off your hat and say "O Cat!" You should now and then supply some caviare or Strassburg pie, and so in time you reach your aim and call him by his NAME!