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Cats is a 1998 direct-to-video musical film based on the stage musical of the same name by Andrew Lloyd Webber, itself based on the novel Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats by T S Eliot.

Production Information

Jemimavideo

Jemima advertising the Cats video

The film was directed by David Mallet and shot at the Adelphi Theatre in London in 1997. The soundtrack for the film was recorded with a seventy-piece orchestra to create a full digital sound. In the film, the license plate on the car that can be seen at the back of the stage reads “TSE 1″ for T S Eliot.

The Cats film was essentially a condensed production of the contemporary London version of the show, with elements such as the re-written version of "Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer", and where there was a discrepancy between the London and Broadway versions, the London version was used. However to retain an international flavour to the film, the Broadway names for "Plato" (Admetus), "Tumblebrutus" (Bill Bailey) and "Pouncival" (Carbucketty) were used. For more details on the differences between the film and the musical, see here.

The film was initially released on VHS and DVD in 1998 by PolyGram Video/Universal Pictures. It has also been broadcast on television by PBS, BBC, Ovation TV, and Sky UK, among others. A Blu-ray "Ultimate Edition" was released in 2013 that included additional behind-the-scenes footage.

Development

Andrew Lloyd Webber had been considering making a film of the musical since at least the early 1990s. Originally the plan was to make an Animated Film with Amblimation studios, however when plans to animate the show fell through, the live action staged film was made instead.

Filming

The music and vocals were pre-recorded first, and the film was then shot over a course of 18 days, from August to September 1997.[1][2][3] The cast initially ran through the musical three times to film the group shots, then the rest of the time involved shooting individual numbers to film close-ups. Filming of the "Gus: The Theatre Cat" section ran over-time, which resulted in "Growltiger's Last Stand" being cut from the final film, as there wasn't time to film the complex dream sequence.  

Costumes and Make Up

Behind the Scenes - The Ins and Outs of Costumes and Makeup Film 1997

Behind the Scenes - The Ins and Outs of Costumes and Makeup Film 1997

The film features the costume designs used in the London production, which are notably different from their Broadway counterparts.  The makeup designs were softened, with the strongest lines removed, as stage makeup would be over-powering in closeup.  

Cast

The cast of the film mostly consisted of former and contemporary Broadway and West End Cats actors reprising their roles for the film, including original London cast members Elaine Paige, Susan Jane Tanner, and Femi Taylor, as well as original Broadway cast member Ken Page.

Role Cast
Cast
Alonzo Jason Gardiner
Asparagus Tony Timberlake
Bombalurina Rosemarie Ford
Bustopher Jones James Barron
Cassandra Rebecca Parker
Coricopat Tommi Sliiden
Demeter Aeva May
Electra Leah Sue Morland
Etcetera Jo Bingham
Exotica Femi Taylor
George / Rumpus Cat Frank Thompson
Grizabella Elaine Paige
Gus Sir John Mills
Jellylorum Susan Jane Tanner
Jemima Veerle Casteleyn
Jennyanydots Susie McKenna
Mistoffelees Jacob Brent
Mungojerrie Drew Varley
Munkustrap Michael Gruber
Old Deuteronomy Ken Page
Plato / Macavity Bryn Walters
Pouncival Karl Morgan
Rumpleteazer Jo Gibb
Rum Tum Tugger John Partridge
Skimbleshanks Geoffrey Garratt
Tantomile Kaye Brown
Tumblebrutus Fergus Logan
Victoria Phyllida Crowley Smith
Swing Richard Armitage
Swing Beth Robson

Several actors in the recording were credited as being dubbed; this was done for a variety of reasons.

Jemima's voice was dubbed by young opera singer Helen Massey, as the production team were afraid Veerle Casteleyn would have a noticeable Flemish accent. Similarly, Geoffrey Garratt as Skimbleshanks was dubbed over by David Arniel in order to give the character a particular Scottish accent.

Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer are also credited as being dubbed; however, those familiar with Drew Varley and Jo Gibb and/or Paul Baker and Vikki Coote (who are credited with the dubbed voices), will recognise that the voices in the recording are indeed Drew Varley and Jo Gibb themselves. One possible explanation for this is that dubbed vocals were recorded, but ultimately discarded, or possibly the *giggle* "shush" at the beginning of the number was kept from the dubbing.

Session Singers
Sally Bentley David Combes
Mary Carewe Robert Fardell
Mark Frederick Michael Dore
Jacqueline Barron Annie Skates
Janet Mooney

Gallery

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Cats musical (1998 movie) - Behind the scenes

Cats musical (1998 movie) - Behind the scenes

Behind the scenes footage

Production Credits

 
Directed by David Mallet
Writing Credits T.S. Eliot (book)
Produced by
Andrew Lloyd Webber
Gary Lucchesi
Andy Picheta
Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber
Cinematography by Nicholas D. Knowland
Film Editing by David Gardener
Production Design by John Napier
Art Direction by Peter Bingermann
David Munns
Crew
First Assistant Director Malcolm Viles
Second Assistant Director Sarah Trickett
Third Assistant Director Ed Van Der Ven
Music Department
Orchestrator Andrew Lloyd Webber
David Cullen
Music Copier Mark Graham
Conductor/Musical Director Simon Lee
Vocal Contractor Annie Skates
Music Co-Producer Nigel Wright
Orchestral Manager Sylvia Addison
Rehearsal Pianist Trevor York
Art Department
Scenic Artist Niki Bayard
Stand-by Construction Roger Chopping
Eddie Kent
Property Marker Gareth Jones
Scenic Painter David Mollin
Carpenter Al Shirley
Art Dept. Coordinator Jake Trickett
Assistant Art Director Lisa Vandy
Stage Construction Alan Walker
Makeup Department
Makeup Designer Karen Dawson
Makeup Artists Joantha Dunn
Viv Gunzi
Jill Hornby
Cat Lawrence
Gillian Thomas
Robert Yeal
Wig Department
Wig Designer Jennifer Dean
Wig Assistant Maria Alush
Rachel Pring
Rita M. Smith
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Costume Supervisor Wendy Griffiths
Wardrobe Supervisor Lesley Lightfoot
Susannah Lowdell
Sian Wolchover
Dresser Sarah Jane Hart
Emily Hillier
Jo Hillier
Tim Gradwell
Spencer Kitchen (For Elaine Page)
Misc.
Original Stage Producer Cameron Mackintosh
Original Stage Director Trevor Nunn
Choreographer Gillian Lynne
Assistant Choreographer Christine Cartwright
Dance Captain Beth Robson
Masseuse Lynn Jorgensen
Assistant to the Director Judy Chesterman
Jane Darby
Production Coordinator Ananda Coulier
Suzie Halewood
Production Associate Rebecca Ferrand
Dennis Firminger
Stage Manager David Ffitch
Assistant Stage Manager Beanie Williams
Book Caller Peter Evelyn
Henry Operator Tony Lawrence
Victor Riva

Trivia

  • Although the soundtrack for the film was never released, the songs "The Jellicle Ball" and "Gus: The Theatre Cat" were released in the 2001 album Andrew Lloyd Webber: Now & Forever.

References

  1. www.nytimes.com "More than a year ago" before 1st November 1998.
  2. www.pbs.org "It was filmed at London’s Adelphi Theatre in August 1997."
  3. www.backstage.com "Princess Diana had just died (31 August 1997), and we shut down production for a few days."
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