'Cats' Musical Wiki
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Transcripts of the bonus featurettes from the 1998 Cats film home video releases. The film was initially released in a regular edition home video in 1998. A "Commemorative Edition" was released in 2000 with a bonus 30-minute behind-the-scenes featurette, while an "Ultimate Edition" was released in 2012 with even more bonus features.

The Making of CATS The Video

30-minute featurette - available in the Commemorative and Ultimate Editions.

START

[Title: What's a Jellicle Cat? The Making of CATS The Video]

[Footage of the film cast performing "Jellicle Songs for Jellicle Cats"]
Cast:
Feline, fearless, faithful and true to others who do what

Crew member's voice:
Three, four...

Cast:
Jellicles do and Jellicles can
Jellicles can and Jellicles do
Jellicle cats sing Jellicle chants
Jellicles old and Jellicles new
Jellicle song and Jellicle dance

[Set Interview]
Andrew Lloyd Webber:
Really, none of us knew what we had. Except that we all thought that we had something very extraordinary. I mean if you think back to 1981, I had never really had a success outside of my work with Tim Rice apart from a couple of short pieces like Tell me on a Sunday.

[Set Interview]
Gillian Lynne: (Stage Director & Choreographer)
I staged the show and choreographed it in absolutely record time. I mean, I think we had something like five and a half weeks so we were so up against it for time and it was a very hard show to get the kids through the first time. I don't think we thought about whether we would be a hit or not. We were just praying we could even open.

[Set Interview]
Andrew Lloyd Webber:
Trevor Nunn was the head of the Royal Shakespeare Company and there'd never really been a dance show in England and it was poetry being set to music with dance. I mean, it looked like a recipe for disaster.

[Footage from 'Parkinson' 1981]
Michael Parkinson:
The stage is not going to be full of people dressed as cats like in a pantomime, is it?

Andrew Lloyd Webber:
Oh, no, no, absolutely not!

[Footage from 'On the town' 1981]
Host:
So it's not going to be a children's musical about pussy cats.

Andrew Lloyd Webber:
No, not at all.

Gillian Lynne:
That's the exciting thing about the show. It won't be a Jazz show. It won't be a balletic show. It won't be a modern dance show. It will be all these things, we hope, and also something that we'd never done before. It's an adventure.

Andrew Lloyd Webber:
All cats are Jellicles, you see. This is made clear in one of the unpublished poems.

Host:
But all the other cats are Jellicle as well.

Andrew Lloyd Webber:
Well all cats are Jellicle cats, fundamentally. You see, dogs are Pollicle dogs and cats are Jellicle cats.

[Footage from original London cast rehearsal]
Gillian Lynne: (to Sharon Lee-Hill re: "Macavity")
She's saying, the man was wonderful when he made love to me, but I hated him, aren't we? So, if we...

[Set Interview]
Andrew Lloyd Webber:
I think that the real moment of truth came when a paying public first saw a cat. Because, either that was going to be one of the biggest moments of legendary bathos ever seen in the history of theater. Or it was going to be...it would work. And luckily, luckily, it worked. But I remember all those kids saying, "What are we doing here?" -

[Set Interview]
Elaine Paige:
Cavorting about as cats, you know

[Set Interview]
Andrew Lloyd Webber:
- just before they went on.

[Set Interview]
Elaine Paige:
Were we going to get away with this?

[Footage from 'Omnibus' 1981]
Host:
But first tonight we'll be looking at 'CATS', the dance musical of that name at the New London Theater in Drury Lane. It's based on T S Eliot's Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats. The music is by Andrew Lloyd Webber. The director is Trevor Nunn and the choreographer is Gillian Lynne. The show opened rather shakily, as a matter of fact, because it took a lot of the critics by surprise.

[Set Interview]
Elaine Paige:
Eventually I think one realized on the opening night, when it all came together, the response was such that you thought, Yes, I think we are involved in something rather ingenious and rather special.

[Set Interview]
Andrew Lloyd Webber:
Trevor Nunn was terrifically helpful on everything to do with the choice of text and everything that we used. And because obviously with his knowledge in the straight theater as it were, he was able to bring something to the party that I think probably other directors would not have done. And then of course, Gillian really is the most experienced choreographer British theater has ever produced.

[Film version of "Skimbleshanks: The Railway Cat" plays over the on-screen text]

Cast:
Then he gave one flash of his glass green eyes
And the signal went all clear!
They'd be off at last for the northern part
Of the Northern Hemisphere!
Skimbleshanks, the ...

On-screen text:
Since opening in June 1981 in London, CATS has become the longest running British musical in the world. It has been seen by over 48 million people in 20 countries. In 1997, work began on filming this most famous of shows.

[Set Interview]
Gillian Lynne:
I came to work on it because Andrew rang me up and said "Can you get on a plane immediately and come and talk to David Mallet and myself?" And then he explained to me about it. I didn't believe it would happen, frankly. Because it seemed like it was going to be in a rush and after 16 years, I thought they can't be suddenly going to rush this through. And so I didn't take it seriously till I got home.

[Film version of "The Rum Tum Tugger" plays over footage of the film set being assembled]
Cast:
Meow.
The Rum Tum Tugger is a curious cat
If you offer me pheasant, I'd rather have grouse
If you put me in a house I would much prefer a flat
If you put me in a flat then I'd rather have a house
If you set me on a mouse then I only want a rat
If you set me on a rat then I'd rather chase the mouse
The Rum Tum Tugger is a curious cat
And there isn't any call for me to shout it
For he will do
As he do, do
And there's no doing anything about it.

[Film footage of "The Rum Tum Tugger"]
Cast:
No.
So you'll catch me in it right up to my ears
If you put it away on the larder shelf
The Rum Tum Tugger is artful and knowing
The Rum Tum Tugger doesn't care for a cuddle
So I'll leap on your lap in the middle of your sewing
Cause there's nothing I enjoy like a horrible muddle

[Behind the scenes footage of the filming of "The Rum Tum Tugger"]
David Mallet: (Director)
Cut!

[Set Interview]
Andrew Lloyd Webber:
And a joy for me, of course, because I'm working for the first time with a proper orchestra. I don't mean we've had a bad orchestra in the theatre, you know, but a big one, which CATS could often do with. Great excitement. It was new ground. The music's been re-recorded. It's been recorded from scratch for this production. And in places it has a much bigger orchestra than we had originally, like "The Jellicle Ball" or "Memory", which is a great joy for me. But it's marvelous to have a chance of working now - of course, it was 17 years old - and now we're able to work with some more recent electronic instruments and things. It's been great fun!

[Set Interview]
Simon Lee: (Musical Director & Conductor)
In order to be some kind of definitive CATS, this is ... has musically become an amalgam of various versions of the show. One of the very points of CATS is that it's written in so many different musical styles.

[Set Interview]
Nigel Wright: (Music co-producer)
We've been through the show, and decided where it needs to be big, it's big. Where it needs to be small, it's small. Whereas before, where it needed to be big, it was as big as a 16-piece could be. But now when it's big, it's a 90-piece, it's a big orchestra.

[Behind the scenes footage of the film orchestra recording]
Nigel Wright:
OK. Let's start "Memory". Is Sylvia down there? [ --- Yes. ] Have we checked we're OK for 15 minutes overtime?

[Set Interview]
Nigel Wright:
If you overrun with a big orchestra, it's hugely expensive. So it's just organisation of making sure that when you start on the day or everything's right. [Memory] And it's not always right. And you can overrun but you try not to.

[Behind the scenes footage of the film orchestra recording while the instrumental of "Memory" plays]

[Set Interview]
Simon Lee:
Andrew has total involvement in the project. And it's absolutely imperative that he does. Everybody can put their interpretive ideas into it, but they may not be relevant if that's not what the composer had in mind.

[Film orchestra studio recording session]
Andrew Lloyd Webber:
And we really have to look at this. The phrasing of the flute, I thought I'd addressed, but it's completely wrong. It's not supposed to be in these, you know, two-note phrases. It's ... [singing melody] It's not - just none of the poetry here, remotely.

Nigel Wright:
OK.

Andrew Lloyd Webber:
And I need to hear what was the "The Ad-Dressing of Cats" ...

[Set Interview]
Nigel Wright:
He has an uncanny knack of walking in and putting his finger on the problem, annoyingly so. You may well have sat here for a couple of hours, trying to work out why things aren't going the right way and he'll come in and he'll say "What's the problem?" and you'll tell him and he'll put his fingers straight on it and you think, "How did you know that?"

[Film orchestra studio recording session]
Andrew Lloyd Webber:
And then, that comes up. But it doesn't come up in proportion to everybody else. In other words, they're mezzoforte, everybody else has got to forte here. And they hit forte there. And then they come off sforzando, I think we do that. [Singing -- many generations] So they just crescendo up a little later. I think that'll be nice.

[Set Interview]
Elaine Paige:
Oh, well, the re-recording of the song was something I thought, "Yikes, here we go. We've got to go and do it again." So, we were all at CTS studios and the orchestra struck up, and I sang along.

[Studio recording session for "Memory"]
Elaine Paige:
I remember the time I knew what happiness was

[Set Interview]
Elaine Paige:
And then there were a lot of discussions and it all went very quiet and we didn't record it again. And I thought "That's rather peculiar."

[Studio recording session for "Memory"]
Andrew Lloyd Webber:
I'm terribly unhappy about all this. This has all been done against the clock. I just want it [unintelligible] this session all ahead. I just don't think this would [Wright: -- I'm taking it into overtime. I might as well do it.] I mean, I'm just not happy with this at all.

Nigel Wright:
OK.

Andrew Lloyd Webber:
I just don't want to let this orchestration out at all.

Nigel Wright:
I totally agree.

Andrew Lloyd Webber:
And I don't want to let "The Moments of Happiness" orchestration out at all.

Nigel Wright:
Okay. Well, then we should stop now.

Andrew Lloyd Webber:
I don't honestly think... I think we have to do this all again and have another day.

Nigel Wright:
OK.

[Set Interview]
Nigel Wright:
When we started to record, Andrew's first impression was "It could be bigger. It could be bigger. It could be better than this for film."

[Behind the scenes footage of film orchestra playing "Memory"]

[Set Interview]
Elaine Paige:
It's always haunted me, this tune. It's spine tingling.

[Behind the scenes footage of film orchestra playing "Memory"]

[Set Interview]
Gillian Lynne:
There's something about a cast that comes from different countries and different shows, and is sort of thrown together in a hurry. You're either going to have terrible eruptions or it's all going to go very well indeed.

[Film version of "The Jellicle Ball" plays over footage of the film cast rehearsing]

[Film cast rehearsals]
Andrew Lloyd Webber: (to the film cast)
It's very exciting. It's good to see so many faces I know. I always wanted the Ball to kind of be like, a kind of my "Slaughter on Tenth Avenue" but we've never ever had the resources to do it of course, you see.

[Film version of "The Jellicle Ball" plays over footage of the film cast rehearsing]

[Set Interview]
Gillian Lynne:
I mean, it was very scary trying to cast this. We did CATS in Antwerp last year and we wanted to find a little young thing with a wonderful wide open face and didn’t think of her until last minute. And then thought, "Ah! We'll try to get Veerle", and she was free. So it was neck and neck!

[Film version of "The Jellicle Ball" plays over footage of the film cast rehearsing]

[Set Interview]
Gillian Lynne:
I don't think anybody knew how detailed this show was. And so you have to do enormous close cover as well as all the big stuff.

[Film cast rehearsals]
Gillian Lynne: (to the film cast)
I know this is hard but all our - my task is to make us all proud of what we're going to do. We have a huge responsibility, and I feel like the weight of the world is on my shoulders, in the sense that I have to deliver a thing of CATS, a production of CATS, that is worth shooting, that can hold up our heads and the reputation of this show all over the world. And what I don't want is to - us to do a video. And when we look at it and we say, each of you say, and I say "Christ, I could have done that better, ugh!"

[Studio recording session for "Magical Mister Mistoffelees"]
Cast:
Oh! Well, I never!
Was there ever a cat so clever as
Magical Mr Mistoffelees?

Andrew Lloyd Webber:
I heard absolutely no melody line at all.

Nigel Wright:
There won't be. Not today

Andrew Lloyd Webber:
Okay. I understand.

Nigel Wright:
You have to pay more for a melody line

Andrew Lloyd Webber:
Thank you.

Nigel Wright:
I told Gary that. Budget has to go up, we have no melody line.

Andrew Lloyd Webber:
I wish somebody would remember that in my contracts. (laughing)

[Set Interview]
Andrew Lloyd Webber:
There haven't been that many changes made to the show itself, except that of course being close up to it in the way that we are, we're able perhaps to tell the story a little clearer, a little better. And of course one of the great joys also is that being up closer, I think that the words could sing a bit more. I think sometimes they can get lost in performance. I think it's much easier to follow what Eliot himself wrote in this. And we've been able, I think, to keep pretty close to the spirit of the stage show, in fact that's been the intention from the beginning.

[Studio recording session for "Bustopher Jones"]
Andrew Lloyd Webber: (to Susan Jane Tanner, Susie McKenna and Rosemarie Ford)
It's more of a telling to somebody who is a little closer to you. It's just a tiny bit, you're telling an audience whereas it should really be like [-- telling the kittens] you’re really telling a load of children like Nigel and I, you see. (laughing)

Susan Jane Tanner:
Or such an impeccable back

Susie McKenna:
In the whole of St. James's the smartest of names is
The name of this Brummell of Cats

Susan Jane Tanner, Susie McKenna and Rosemarie Ford:
And we're all of us proud to be nodded or bowed to
By Bustopher Jones in white spats!

Andrew Lloyd Webber:
Just a little bit less, a little bit less Joyce Grenfell, you know. And I think that brilliantly done was the word "Brummel". I think to get to the word "this Brummel of cats" is a real celebration of old Bustopher. But I think we let him down a wee bit if we slightly sort of send him up, which by doing the accents too much I think we might be in danger of doing.

[Behind the scenes filming of "Bustopher Jones"]
David Mallet:
Here we go and playback!

Cast:
In the whole of St. James's the smartest of names is
The name of this Brummell of Cats
And we're all of us proud to be nodded or bowed to
By Bustopher Jones in white spats!
In the whole of St. James's the smartest of names is
The name of this Brummell of Cats
And we're all of us proud to be nodded or bowed to
By Bustopher Jones in white spats!

David Mallet:
Cut. Gilly, what did you say about the beginning?

[Set Interview]
Andrew Lloyd Webber:
I think the choice to go to David Mallet to direct the stage production, as it were, for this video was a pretty obvious one in many ways.

[Behind the scenes filming of "The Song of the Jellicles"]
Gillian Lynne:
Six, seven, eight

Gillian Lynne and cast:
Jellicle cats, as we said, are small

David Mallet:
Do you think you could do that? That's not unreasonable is it?

[Set Interview]
Andrew Lloyd Webber:
David is of course very well known for his work with dance. And there's a lot of dance in CATS.

[Behind the scenes filming]
David Mallet:
I just want to say one thing. If anybody makes a bollocks of anything, don't worry, we've got 15 more days to fix it.

[Footage of "Macavity" from the film]
Cast:
Macavity, Macavity, there's no one like Macavity
There never was a cat of such deceitfulness and suavity

[Set Interview]
Andrew Lloyd Webber:
I remember David right back in Hot Gossip days, and always thought Hot Gossip was pretty extraordinary in the way that it was shot. And there's a funny story there, because when I went to see Valerie Eliot, T S Eliot's widow, to ask whether or not I could have
the rights to make a musical out of CATS. One of the things she said is "I don't want them turned into pussycats" And I said, "well, that's not what we had in mind." She said, "Well, the thing was Tom - T S Eliot - turned down Disney you know, because he didn't want them to be pussycats or turned into cartoon cats." I then said, rather sort of taking my courage, "I was sort of seeing them a little bit more like Hot Gossip." She said, "Yes, Yes. I think Tom would have liked that."

[Behind the scenes filming]
David Mallet:
Gilly, I can't see my white pussy at all.

[Film footage of "Macavity"]
Cast:
Macavity, Macavity, there's no one like Macavity
For he's a fiend in feline shape, a monster of depravity
You may meet him in a by-street
You may see him in the square
But when a crime's discovered then
Macavity, Macavity, Macavity, Macavity
When a crime's discovered then Macavity's not there!

[Set Interview]
Michael Gruber:
Munkustrap is really the storyteller. He's entrusted with giving the information to the other, maybe younger, cats who have not been to the Jellicle ball before. He gets up and says exactly what they're here to do. He's also caretaker of the kittens, wants to make sure everybody's safe. In all the Macavity scares, he's there to protect the tribe. So he is the protector.

[Set Interview]
Lesley Lightfoot: (Wardrobe supervisor)
- and paint it to go with their costumes. So each pair of shoes has about an hour's work done on them.

[Behind the scenes footage of the makeup and wardrobe process]

[Set Interview]
Karen Dawson Harding: (Make up Designer)
It's quite a difficult one, because they're meant to be felines, but they're also meant to be humans. So the make-up has got to be strong enough for the theatre to actually be able to be seen everywhere in the theatre. But not be too strong so it actually masks out the character of the humans themselves. Because it's for film, we've taken away some of the harder theatrical lines and softened it.

[Set Interview]
Lesley Lightfoot:
All the washing. Every leotard washed individually by hand. Without a draining board, which I asked for the first day I was here. No draining board, hand scrubbing. Very difficult in these conditions. Next question?

[Film version of "The Old Gumbie Cat" plays over behind the scenes footage of the makeup and wardrobe process]
Cast:
For she's a jolly good fellow
Thank you my dears

[Set Interview]
Gary Lucchesi: (Executive Producer)
You need a great cast to pull it all off. Because if the cast isn't up to par, everybody else's work is marginalized. And I think that we're very fortunate in having an absolutely extraordinary cast. I think this is the best cast of CATS that I've ever seen.

[Set Interview]
Michael Gruber:
One of the highlights is working with Sir John Mills. I mean, who would have thought? To see Gus performed by an actor of age, and of theatrical heritage. I mean, really puts a whole spin on it that I don't think has ever been seen before. I mean, Sir John, it's like a lesson in acting. And to be able to sit back, I don't think there was a dry eye each time. And to be around his energy is something that I will, you know, cherish my whole life.

[Rehearsals]
John Mills:
And I wonder if you could give me any "cat" thing. I'd be very grateful ... "cat" movements or anything.

Gillian Lynne:
When you put your hand out for your vision, if you tuck in - that's it. There. So it's feeling. That is like a paw now, immediately.

John Mills:
Yes, that's it.

[Behind the scenes of filming "Gus: The Theatre Cat"]
David Mallet:
You want to just have a look? Take a small look. Whatever you just gave me is the one.

[Film version of "Gus: The Theatre Cat"]
Cast:
When some actor suggested the need for a cat
And I say
That these kittens
They do not get trained
As we did in the days
When Victoria reigned
They never get drilled
In a regular troup
And they think they are smart
Just jump through the hoop
And he says as he scratches himself with his claws
Well, the theater is certainly
Not what it was
These modern productions
Are all very well
But there's nothing to equal
From what I here tell
That moment of mystery
When I made history

[Film version of "Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer" plays over rehearsal footage]
Cast:
Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer
We're a notorious couple of cats
As knockabout clowns
Quick-change comedians
Tight-rope walkers and acrobats
We have an extensive reputation
We make our home in Victoria grove
This is merely our center of operation
For we are incurably given to rove

[Set Interview]
Jo Gibb:
I'm Rumpleteazer and I'm part of a duo who is Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer. And we're the two naughtiest cats in CATS, I suppose. We're always doing what we shouldn't, being where we shouldn't be, getting up to mischief and creating hassle for everyone else. The number "Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer" talks through a process of that when we decide to go out burgling one night, which we do often, of course. But, she's lovable at the same time as being naughty and cheeky, she's always getting a clip around the ear from the older cats. But they like her, really.

[Film footage of "Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer"]
Cast:
And most of the time, they leave it at that

[Set Interview]
Elaine Paige:
Grizabella, well, she's really an old dilapidated cat who's had a very good life, indeed, and has been in a few scrapes in her life. I think she has a few regrets. And I think she may now, at this point in her life, feel a little tired and lonely, and certainly feels rejected in this piece, because every time she appears, poor thing, they all shun her. And she just wants to be loved, and to be involved in the life of the community of these cats, and, ah, but they don't want her around.

[Film footage of "Grizabella: The Glamour Cat"]
Cast:
Remark the cat
Who hesitates towards you
In the light of the door
Which opens on her
Like a grin

[Set Interview]
Ken Page:
Well he's the Jellicle leader of the tribe that we are in CATS. He's the oldest member and he's probably the father of a lot of them, I think actually.

[Film footage of "Magical Mister Mistoffelees"]
Cast:
Oh! Well, I never!
Was there ever a cat so clever as
Magical Mr Mistoffelees?

[Set Interview]
Jacob Brent:
He's sort of a rascal, I think. I think he's a bit of a child prodigy of the tribe, brilliant in what he does but a little wacky at the same time. And he's not really an adult yet and he's not a kitten, so he's in that in-between stage. But he has these magical powers and he doesn't quite know how to use them yet, but he's learning.

[Set Interview]
Gillian Lynne:
Making the show work for cameras has been a fascinating task. I think it will be always difficult for performers who aren't versed in both all the time to do it, because, as we know, it's utterly, utterly different.

[Set Interview]
Michael Gruber:
I didn't really expect it to be this difficult. It's probably been the greatest challenge of it, because the focus hasn't really been on figuring out what to do, it's sort of been figuring out how to do it.

[Set Interview]
Jo Gibb:
It's really difficult to create an atmosphere for film. You've got to click it on and click it off. I've realized just how hard it is for TV actors or film actors by comparison to stage actors to grab a moment from nowhere, when they've suddenly been sitting down having a coffee and then they say, "Right, let's go for that shot."

[Set Interview]
Ken Page:
I think the advantage of film is that you can get inside of a piece and really concentrate on what's going on between people and see the energy and the story, really, that's there. When I did the show the first time, I was 28. Coming to it now, it's really a challenge and a treat, really, to get to do it again. I don't find I have to "act it" as much, now I just have to "be it".

[Behind the scenes footage of the filming process]

[Film footage interspaced with behind the scenes footage]
Cast:
Daylight
I must wait for the sunrise
I must think of the new life
And I mustn't give in
When the dawn comes
Tonight will be a memory too
And the new day will begin
Sunlight through the trees in summer
Endless masquerading
Like a flower as the dawn is breaking
The memory is fading
Touch me!
It's so easy to leave me
All alone with the memory
Of my days in the sun
If you touch me
You'll understand what happiness is
Look
A new day has begun

[Set Interview]
Jo Gibb:
This is the definitive version of CATS. It's an honour actually to be used in it. And I’ve got this now, forever. The production with Elaine Paige in it, the production with Ken Page in it. All the brilliant people that we've got to work with, and I'm along with them, and I've got this now on video to show my kids in later life.

[Set Interview]
Simon Lee:
It will never have sounded like this before.

[Set Interview]
Andrew Lloyd Webber:
Because we want people to come into the world of the CATS and into this glorious rubbish dump that we've created and to then lose themselves in it. And I think that to approach something from that angle as if it is a complete piece of work in its own right rather than just filming something that has been achieved, it's been thrilling.

[Film footage of "The Ad-Dressing of Cats"]
Cast:
A cat's entitled to expect
These evidences of respect
So this is this and that is that
And that's how you address a cat!

END

Character Make-up with Karen Dawson Harding

Featurette with Karen Dawson Harding, Lindsey Wise as Jemima, David Ashley as Munkustrap, and Joe Ryan as Skimbleshanks - only available in the Ultimate Edition.

(Not available - please help to add the transcripts)


Interviews

In-depth interviews with Andrew Lloyd Webber, Cameron Mackintosh, Trevor Nunn, Gillian Lynne, John Napier, and Gerry Schoenfeld - only available in the Ultimate Edition.

(Not available - please help to add the transcripts)

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