Jemima is a supporting character in Cats. Jemima first appeared in the Original London production. Her role is sometimes re-named Sillabub to avoid supposed racist connotations in North America.
She is the youngest member of the tribe, and is seen to represent the innocence, emotion and playfulness of Cats.
|“||Dreamy, Yearning, Curious||”|
Jemima is sweet, affectionate, innocent, intuitive, mystical, and possibly telepathic. She is possibly the youngest kitten in the tribe and shows compassion for others around her. Jemima is very friendly and welcoming, as well as playful. She is known for her high, clear soprano. Jemima is also shown to demonstrate a deep sense of empathy and understanding, as she is selected by Old Deuteronomy to relay the message of Happiness halfway through the show.
She is attracted to the Rum Tum Tugger and is part of his fan club.
|“||Very good dancer. Young looking and not taller than 5'4. Very good head voice, with clear and youthful tones. Confident to F.||”|
Jemima participates in dances with the other cats but is often seen with cats such as Victoria - especially when swooning over the Rum Tum Tugger. She is also shown interacting with Jennyanydots, and hides behind Skimbleshanks during Grizabella's first entrance.
During "Moments of Happiness", Old Deuteronomy channels his mystical understanding through Coricopat and Tantomile, to Jemima who sings a reprise of "Memory". She is one of the kittens who, in her innocence and with empathy, reaches out to Grizabella - her attempt at contact being stopped by one of the older cats, although she later sings a duet with Grizabella in Memory. Mistoffelees is also seen smiling at her and handing her the rainbow-filled cup. In some productions, she is included in a magic trick.
The Japanese production of Cats includes both Jemima and Sillabub, with the role that is typically either Jeimima or Sillabub split between the two characters. Jemima is featured as one of the Gumbie Trio (with Jellylorum and Cassandra) and sings the "Moonlight" refrain; Sillabub is the youngest kitten and sings "Memory" with Grizabella. The Japanese Jemima is clearly a Calico with black and orange patches on a white base, as a stylistic development from the original John Napier design.
Chorus / Swing Jemima
Some productions, notably Australian based, include both Sillabub and Jemima. In these instances, it is Sillabub who is the soloist who sings in Memory, and Jemima is a less prominent ensemble dancer.
Whilst her appearance has changed over time, more recent productions have given her a consistent chorus appearance seeming to be a cross between the original Jemima "almost Jemima" kitten designs.
Jemima has a reddish maroon/brown coat with a white chest and a spiked collar. Her markings do not strongly relate to any real cat markings, beyond having a white bib and dark body, but she could be viewed as a dark tabby or Tortie. Her wig is often styled into spunky red-black-and-white spikes. In recent productions, since the Palladium revamp, her wig is of a dull brown color and more wild. She is one for the few cats who wear gloves instead of arm warmers.
Since about 2000, the London/video costume designs have become more common in worldwide productions, however the characters have not been re-named to align with the designs. This has led to the reddish brown Jemima design being named Sillabub in more recent productions.
Behind the Scenes
Andrew Lloyd Webber has said that originally they wanted one actress who was both the beautiful solo dancer that is Victoria, and the sweet-voiced soprano that is Jemima. However when they couldn't cast a strong enough dancer with a strong enough voice, the concept of the female kitten was split into the two roles.
Jemima is often symbolized to portray the playfulness and curiosity of the show. Victoria and Jemima are often put together and perform at showcases to represent the two sides of the show; Victoria standing for grace, beauty, and elegance, and Jemima standing for innocence, emotion and playfulness. She is featured in many advertisements for both the video and the show. Jemima sang at the 2014 CATS Press Launch at the London Palladium, singing her solo as the first act before the other Jellicles come in. Andrew Lloyd Webber's future ex-wife, Sarah Brightman, portrayed Jemima originally, and would go on to perform soprano roles such as Christine in Phantom of the Opera.
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