'Cats' Musical Wiki
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"The Invitation to the Jellicle Ball" is a short musical number welcoming the Jellicles to the Ball. It consists of two parts: Victoria's ballet solo, followed by Mistoffelees and Munkustrap breaking the fourth wall to explain the entire plot of the musical.

Context

After "The Naming of Cats", the other cats slink off into the shadows, leaving Victoria the White Cat alone centre stage. She begins to dance a beautiful, measured, impossibly graceful solo. As she finishes, either Mistoffelees or Munkustrap, depending on the production, joins her to invite us to the Jellicle Ball. Munkustrap elaborates on the purpose of the Ball, to educate both the youngest members of the tribe as well as the audience.

White Cat Solo

The "White Cat Solo" is the ballet solo performed by Victoria, symbolising the character's coming of age. The number is a slow, lyrical dance that requires extensive flexibility, balance and classical technique.

According to original Cats choreographer Gillian Lynne, the dance represents "a beautiful young cat becoming a young woman,"[1] with Victoria as "a little cat in puberty, discovering her own body,"[2] and "dancing sensually for herself."[3]

History

As one of the most iconic choreographic segments in the show, the White Cat Solo has remained unchanged over the years. Even when Gillian Lynne's choreography was reworked by Andy Blankenbuehler for the 2016 Broadway revival, this segment was kept in its original form.

Mistoffelees typically sings the first part of the song while dancing with Victoria. In 1980s/early 1990s productions that had a "mute" Mistoffelees (mainly European productions derived from Vienna), Munkustrap sang both parts instead, although it was still Mistoffelees who danced with Victoria.

Early productions had the ensemble sing a full chorus after Mistoffelees' part, either singing an excerpt from "The Song of the Jellicles" (London-style) or repeating Mistoffelees' chorus (Broadway-style). This was phased out of most productions by the late 1990s. Some modern productions (e.g. US and Japan-based) will have the ensemble sing along with Mistoffelees for the final: "Jellicles come to the Jellicle Ball".

Music

"The Invitation to the Jellicle Ball" is underpinned by the Jellicle theme. This recurring theme accompanies Victoria's White Cat Solo, played through twice in its two-phrase form. The tranquil mood is then broken as Mistoffelees enters and begins to sing his stanza, which is set to the four-phrase version of the Jellicle theme.[4]

Jellicle theme in its four-phrase form during Misto's stanza (part 1)

Jellicle theme in its four-phrase form during Misto's stanza (part 2)

Jellicle theme in its four-phrase form during Misto's stanza (part 3)

Lyrics

Mistoffelees:
Jellicle Cats come out tonight
Jellicle Cats come one come all
The Jellicle Moon is shining bright
Jellicles come to the Jellicle Ball

Jellicle Cats come out tonight
Jellicles come to the Jellicle Ball

Munkustrap:
Jellicle Cats meet once a year
At the Jellicle Ball where we all rejoice
And the Jellicle leader will soon appear
And make what is known as the Jellicle choice

When Old Deuteronomy just before dawn
Through a silence you feel you could cut with a knife
Announces the cat who can now be reborn
And come back to a different Jellicle life

For waiting up there is the Heaviside Layer
Full of wonders one Jellicle only will see
And Jellicles ask because Jellicles dare
Who will it be?
Who will it be?

International Versions

Audio

Video

Gallery

Trivia

  • The White Cat Solo was one of Gillian Lynne's favourite segments in the show to choreograph.[1] On the importance of this piece, she said: "It matters very much to me. Partly because it's the first piece of real dance in the show, and partly because it was the first bit of real choreography I did. I still think it's about the most truly cat-like piece of choreography in it."[3]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Meet Cats choreographer Gillian Lynne, gulfnews.com. January 12, 2017
  2. Gillian Lynne interview, CATS 1998 film - Ultimate Edition extras.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Gillian Lynne in Omnibus, Season 15 Episode 2, BBC1 (17 January 1982)
  4. The Megamusical, Indiana University Press (2006). Pages 137-138. ISBN 978-0-253-34793-0.
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