Though we can’t say exactly what a Jellicle cat is, we can say who they are in the upcoming Cats film. The movie draws its cast from the New York and London stage, Broadway and ballet, and from the film and music industry, including Oscar-winning actors as well as Grammy-winning pop stars.
Here is a practical primer on the naming of Cats:
Platinum selling pop star Jason Derulo will be strutting on the big screen as Rum Tum Tugger. This rebellious rockstar cat is a curious cat who is never happy with what he has—he’s “always on the wrong side of every door.”
Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson (The Color Purple, Dreamgirls) will sing “Memory” as Grizabella the Glamour Cat. Although once beautiful, she enters tattered and stained, and is shunned by the tribe.
Upcoming Tony Awards host James Corden will step about as Bustopher Jones, the cat about town. This dandy cat dressed in white spats is known for overindulging on food and drink at the many clubs he frequents.
Old Deuteronomy, the sage and beloved leader of the Jellicle Tribe, is a “cat who has lived many lives in succession.” The role was originated on Broadway by Ken Page, but will be played by Oscar and Tony winner Judi Dench (Shakespeare in Love) in this gender-swapped casting.
Ian McKellen (The Lord of the Rings, Waiting for Godot) will regale his audience with tales of his past stage successes (he once got seven catcalls) as Gus, the frail and shabby theatre cat. Though past his prime, he insists that he could still play Growltiger, the swashbuckling pirate cat. (English film actor Ray Winstone will be bringing Growltiger to life in the Music Hall pastiche number from Gus’s memory.
Multi Grammy Award winner Taylor Swift takes on the flirtatious red cat, Bombalurina. A featured cat in several numbers, she duets with Demeter (Daniela Norman) in the bluesy tune that introduces Macavity.
Idris Elba (BBC's Luther, Heimdall in the Marvel Avengers franchise) is cast as Macavity the Mystery Cat. The show’s villain, Macavity is described as a fiend and monster of depravity.
Mr. Mistoffelees, the original conjuring cat, will be played by English actor Laurie Davidson (TNT's Will). This small black cat is clever and magical and features prominently in the reappearance of Old Deuteronomy. He may be deceitful, but his magic isn’t malicious like Macavity’s.
Royal Ballet dancer Steven McRae, is Skimbleshanks the Railway Cat. With Skimble aboard and keeping watch on the Northern Night Mail train, nothing can go wrong.
Francesca Hayward, also of Royal Ballet, will appear as Victoria, the show’s pure white cat and principal dancer.
Tony nominee and New York City Ballet alum Robert Fairchild (An American in Paris) will appear as Munkustrap. This cat serves a narrator for the show and the de facto leader of the tribe when Old Deuteronomy goes missing.