'Cats' Musical Wiki
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"Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer" is a song about the two titular mischievous cats. It is performed as a lively dance number with acrobatics while Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer sing in duet, capped off with the duo's signature tandem cartwheels.

Context

After Bustopher Jones' introduction, a loud crashing sound rings throughout the Junkyard, sending the cats into a panic. Macavity is suspected to abound and so members of the tribe run offstage to hide. Suddenly, both Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer spring up, giggling, and begin singing about their lives, profession, and exploits as 'knockabout clowns, quick-change comedians,' etc. They describe their lavish residence and travels causing trouble throughout London, as well as within their own owner's family. They are eventually caught and confronted by the other cats, their bags of stolen goods discarded.

Throughout their song, Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer dance and perform acrobatic feats. Their signature piece of choreography is a series of (usually seven) consecutive tandem cartwheels. In the original London production, they were chased around the theatre by the other cats at the end of their song.

History

The lyrics for "Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer" are taken from the T S Eliot poem of the same name from Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats (1939). The music for this number has been rewritten several times, with three main versions of the song:

  • The original 1981 London version is a relatively languid-paced jazz number, a slowed down rendition of the slinky jazz number that had been presented at the Sydmonton Festival the previous year. This version is sung and danced by Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer.
  • The 1982 Broadway production introduced the upbeat arrangement in which the song was sung in the third person by Mistoffelees. This version was danced by the actors who played Coricopat and Etcetera as puppets made out of junk that appeared from the trunk of the car set piece, brought to life to entertain Bustopher Jones. The ensemble joined in the dancing in the later portion of the song.
  • The third and most common version originated in the 1983 Vienna production. It is a reworking of the upbeat Broadway tune, but sung and danced by Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer themselves. This version was eventually incorporated into both the Broadway (1987) and London (1996) productions.

The third version is used in most modern productions including the 1998 film, though said film cuts out a large chunk of the song. The 2019 movie uses the original London version.

Specific Productions

The following productions are known to have used the original London version of "Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer": London (1981-1996) and the early UK tours, Budapest (1983-??), Japan (1983-2018), Zurich (1991-1993), Amsterdam (1992-1993), Euro Tour (1994-1996), 2019 movie.

Music

The upbeat score for "Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer" has been rewritten at least three times over the years.

Broadway version (1982)

In the original Broadway score, the number opens with Rum Tum Tugger introducing the Magical Mr. Mistoffelees. The song itself alternates between circus/vaudeville-style verses set to 4/4 time, and a wordy patter section set to a frantic asymmetrical 7/8 meter.[1] The wildly different passages provide sharp contrast, with a very brief meter change to 2/4 during each transition. This version of the song has a tempo of 96 beats per minute ("easy ragtime") and is primarily composed in the D major key, switching to Eb major for the final verse and patter section (flitting to F major and Db major for four bars each).[2]

Meter changes to 7/8 at the patter section in the original Broadway score

Listen to a midi transcription showcasing the original Broadway patter section in 7/8. As found in the Broadway 1983 cast recording.

Triplet version (2003)

New composition of the song was began to appear in 2003 featuring a triplet rephrasing of the patter section. This triplet version was used at some point during the UK Tour 2013. [3]

Triplet feel at the patter section in the 2003 score

Listen to a midi transcription showcasing the triplet variation of the patter section. As performed for example in the UK Tour 2013.

Modern version (2016)

In the modern score, a loud crash followed by Macavity's leitmotif precedes the number. The verses are set to 4/4 time with a moderate tempo ("moderato"). However, rather than a meter change in the patter section, the song remains in common time but with the tempo sped up to 142 beats per minute. The transitional meter changes to 2/4 remain, with another very brief meter change to 6/4 at the end of the final patter section. This modern version follows the same key changes as the original Broadway score. The scene ends with a short reprise of the song. [4]

Meter remains at 4/4 at the patter section but with the tempo sped up to 142 bpm in the modern score

Listen to a midi transcription showcasing the patter section in 4/4 with the sped up tempo.


Lyrics

Modern Version

Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer, we're a notorious couple of cats
As knock-about 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 centre of operation, for we are incurably given to rove.

If the area window is found ajar,
And the basement looks like a field of war,
If a tile or two comes loose on the roof,
Which presently ceased to be waterproof,
If the drawers are pulled out from the bedroom chests,
And you can't find one of your winter vests,
Or after supper one of the girls
Suddenly misses her Woolworth pearls:

Then the family will say: 'It's that horrible cat!
Was it Mungojerrie - or Rumpleteazer?' - and most of the time they leave it at that.

Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer have an unusual gift of the gab.
We are highly efficient cat-burglars as well, and remarkably smart at the smash-and-grab.
We make our home in Victoria Grove. We have no regular occupation.
We are plausible fellows, who like to engage a friendly policeman in conversation.

When the family assembles for Sunday dinner,
With their minds made up that they won't get thinner
On Argentine joint, potatoes and greens,
Then the cook would appear from behind the scenes
And say in a voice that is broken with sorrow:
'I'm afraid you must wait and have dinner tomorrow!
The joint has gone from the oven - like that!'

Then the family will say: 'It's that horrible cat!
Was it Mungojerrie - or Rumpleteazer?' - and most of the time they leave it at that.

Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer have a wonderful way of working together.
And some of the time you would say it was luck, and some of the time you would say it was weather.
We go through the house like a hurricane, and no sober person could take his oath
Was it Mungojerrie - or Rumpleteazer? or could you have sworn that it mightn't be both?

And when you hear a dining-room smash
Or up from the pantry there comes a loud crash
Or down from the library came a loud ping
From a vase which was commonly said to be Ming -

Then the family will say: 'Now which was which cat?
It was Mungojerrie AND Rumpleteazer!' - and there's nothing at all to be done about that!

And there's nothing at all to be done about that!

Original London Version

Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer, we're a notorious couple of cats
As knock-about 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 centre of operation, for we are incurably given to rove.

We are very well known in Cornwall Gardens, in Launceston Place and in Kensington Square.
We have really a little more reputation than a couple of cats can very well bear.

If the area window is found ajar,
And the basement looks like a field of war,
If a tile or two comes loose on the roof,
Which presently fails to be waterproof,
If the drawers are pulled out from the bedroom chests,
And you can't find one of your winter vests,
If after supper one of the girls
Suddenly misses her Woolworth pearls:

The family will say: 'It's that horrible cat!
Was it Mungojerrie - or Rumpleteazer?' - and most of the time they leave it at that.

Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer have a very unusual gift of the gab.
We are highly efficient cat-burglars as well, and remarkably smart at the smash-and-grab.
We make our home in Victoria Grove. We have no regular occupation.
We are plausible fellows, who like to engage a friendly policeman in conversation.

When the family assembles for Sunday dinner,
With their minds made up that they won't get thinner
On Argentine joint, potatoes and greens,
And the cook would appear from behind the scenes
And say in a voice that is broken with sorrow:
'I'm afraid you must wait and have dinner tomorrow! 
For the joint has gone from the oven - like that!'

The family will say: 'It's that horrible cat!
Was it Mungojerrie - or Rumpleteazer?' - and most of the time they leave it at that.

Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer have a wonderful way of working together.
And some of the time you would say it was luck, and some of the time you would say it was weather.
We go through the house like a hurricane, and no sober person could take his oath
Was it Mungojerrie - or Rumpleteazer? or could you have sworn that it mightn't be both?

And when you hear a dining-room smash
Or up from the pantry there comes a loud crash
Or down from the library there comes a loud ping
From a vase which was commonly said to be Ming -

The family will say: 'Now which was which cat?
It was Mungojerrie AND Rumpleteazer!' - and there's nothing at all to be done about that!

Original Broadway Version

The greatest magicians have something to learn
From Mr Mistoffelees' Conjuring Turn!

Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer were a notorious couple of cats
As knock-about clowns, quick-change comedians, tight-rope walkers and acrobats
They had an extensive reputation. They made their home in Victoria Grove -
That was merely their centre of operation, for they were incurably given to rove.

If the area window was found ajar,
And the basement looked like a field of war,
If a tile or two came loose on the roof,
Which presently ceased to be waterproof,
If the drawers were pulled out from the bedroom chests,
And you couldn't find one of your winter vests,
Or after supper one of the girls
Suddenly missed her Woolworth pearls:

Then the family would say: 'It's that horrible cat!
Was it Mungojerrie - or Rumpleteazer?' - and most of the time they left it at that.

Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer had an unusual gift of the gab.
They were highly efficient cat-burglars as well, and remarkably smart at the smash-and-grab.
They made their home in Victoria Grove. They had no regular occupation.
They were plausible fellows, who liked to engage a friendly policeman in conversation.

When the family assembled for Sunday dinner,
With their minds made up that they wouldn't get thinner
On Argentine joint, potatoes and greens,
Then the cook would appear from behind the scenes
And say in a voice that was broken with sorrow:
'I'm afraid you must wait and have dinner tomorrow!
The joint has gone from the oven - like that!'

Then the family would say: 'It's that horrible cat!
Was it Mungojerrie - or Rumpleteazer?' - and most of the time they left it at that.

Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer had a wonderful way of working together.
And some of the time you would say it was luck, and some of the time you would say it was weather.
They'd go through the house like a hurricane, and no sober person could take his oath
Was it Mungojerrie - or Rumpleteazer? or could you have sworn that it mightn't be both?

And when you heard a dining-room smash
Or up from the pantry there came a loud crash
Or down from the library came a loud ping
From a vase which was commonly said to be Ming -

Then the family would say: 'Now which was which cat?
It was Mungojerrie AND Rumpleteazer!' - and there's nothing at all to be done about that!

And there's nothing at all to be done about that!

International Versions

Audio

Original London Version

Original Broadway Version

Modern Version

Note: .ogg files cannot be played on iOS devices

Video

Gallery

References

  1. The Megamusical, Indiana University Press (2006). Pages 150-151. ISBN 978-0-253-34793-0.
  2. Cats: Songs from the Musical, Hal Leonard (May 1, 1982). Page 41-47. ISBN 978-0881882001.
  3. Unofficial recording of the UK tour 2013 on YouTube featuring the triplet score. https://youtu.be/8QwNaGpqt0M?t=1948
  4. Unofficial recording of the Broadway revival 2016 on YouTube featuring the modern score. https://youtu.be/RXIPJQqR6UQ?t=67
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