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Bill Bailey is an ensemble character in Cats. He is a playful and acrobatic tom kitten.

The character originated in the London production, initially as a nameless kitten and only later given the name "Bill Bailey". The same role was then renamed "Tumblebrutus" on Broadway.

Etymology

"Bill Bailey" is mentioned in "The Naming of Cats" as one of the "sensible, everyday names". Literary scholars believe that the name was conceived by T S Eliot for a cat that likes to stray from home, inspired by the popular 1902 song "Won't You Come Home Bill Bailey".[1]

Before he was given a name, the character was originally credited as one of "The Kittens" in the London production.

Personality

Chaotic, Imprudent, Funny

Bill Bailey is one of the youngest male kittens, mischievous and easily excited. He is usually seen with the other young toms, Carbucketty, Admetus, and George and Victor when they appear.

Role

Acrobat, dancer, singer. Must be able to perform a variety of acrobatics, including a series of flicflacs and saltos.

Bill Bailey is principally the main acrobat of the cast, as well as being a dance role. He is rarely centre stage, but often pulls focus with his tumbling antics in the background. The character usually has a few vocal lines in the group numbers. 

In the UK Tour, Bill Bailey joins the female kittens in squealing over Rum Tum Tugger. He is also sometimes the kitten swinging on the trapeze in "Jellicle Songs for Jellicle Cats". 

Appearance

Bill Bailey is a white and brown patched tom cat, often depicted in the show as a kitten. Of all the Cats with dual names/personalities, his appearance remains the most consistent, having a distinctive brown patch over one eye, and brown patches on his right shoulder and left hip.

Gallery

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Fandom

For fandom headcanons and theories, CLICK HERE.

Trivia

  • Bill Bailey/Tumblebrutus often takes the final bow of the show by tumbling across the stage.

References

  1. Imperial Names for 'Practical Cats': Establishing a Distinctly British Pride in Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, Dorothy Dodge Robbins. 12 November 2013.
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