|“||The Rum Tum Tugger is a curious cat and there isn't any use for you to doubt it. For he will do as he do, do, and there's no doing anything about it.||”|
Rum Tum Tugger is a principal character in Cats. He is the rock star of the tribe, a charismatic wild anarchic energy who is adored by the younger characters and tolerated by the older ones. As one of the main male vocalists, the character has two solos: "The Rum Tum Tugger" and "Magical Mister Mistoffelees".
|“||Vain, Perverse, Inconsequent||”|
Rum Tum Tugger is a self-obsessed show-off, often trying to steal the limelight and revelling when all attention is focused on him. Many of the kittens and queens are fans of his charisma, however the more mature characters are impatient with his antics, especially Munkustrap, Demeter, and Mistoffelees.
He is indecisive and demanding, and only likes "what he finds for himself". There is nothing he "enjoys like a horrible muddle". Despite this, Tugger does demonstrate rare moments of seriousness and humility, showing deference to Old Deuteronomy and giving Mistoffelees his due credit for bringing Old Deuteronomy back.
In some London-based productions, he is said to be the younger brother of Munkustrap. These productions may play up the sibling dynamic, with Tugger trying to mess with his responsible big brother throughout the show.
|“||Rum Tum Tugger is the 'rock-star' cat, with a wild comedic sexuality. Must be a charismatic performer with a fantastic rock/pop voice with very strong falsetto, (able to improvise and ad-lib vocally) great presence and good dance skills. Playing age 25 – 35. Ideally over 5' 10" tall.||”|
As a principal vocal role and a major character part, the actor's dancing ability is less important than his singing and character acting. The amount Tugger dances in the show varies according to the actor's ability, but he usually has a featured section in the "Jellicle Ball". He has two solo numbers, "The Rum Tum Tugger" and "Magical Mister Mistoffelees", as well as a duet, "Old Deuteronomy", that he sings with Munkustrap.
The Rum Tum Tugger is also seen in "The Battle of The Pekes and The Pollicles" in which there is a comedic moment where he walks out playing the football bagpipes while Munkustrap looks annoyed at his improvisation.
The following names have also been used for the character of Rum Tum Tugger in various international productions:
- Pon Roc Terco / Punk Rock Terco (Spanish) - meaning "punk rock stubborn"
- Ram Tam Trassel (Swedish) - trassel meaning "trouble"
- Rom Tom Tapper
- Tuk Stuk Rukker (Dutch) - rukker meaning "wanker"
- Rocky Tam Tam
- Rabalder Rocco
- Ram Tam Tamek
- Micsel Rumli (Hungarian) - Micsel sounds similar to Michael, and Rumli means "mess" or "disarray"
Rum Tum Tugger is a primarily black cat with a remarkably large golden mane and leopard spots in patches on his chest, arms, and legs, which suggest a dark tabby coat pattern. He channels the rock 'n' roll styles of the 1950s/60s with his leather belt, gloves and quiff. The Japanese production initially made Tugger a more direct reference to Elvis, emulating his iconic fringed white jumpsuit while still retaining Tugger's large fluffy mane.
Tugger initially appears in "Jellicle Songs for Jellicle Cats" in a plainer version of his costume, with a neat, short wig, no mane, and dark warmers covering his golden lower legs. This "Chorus Tugger" costume is used for the Street Cat as well, although he has a different unitard for the rest of the show. In the Broadway Revival, Tugger wears an entirely different ensemble costume during "Jellicle Songs", consisting of brown and black stripes not unlike some Mungojerrie costumes named "Bill Bailey" (unrelated to the ensemble character Bill Bailey).
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- The performer playing Rum Tum Tugger is usually the last to leave the stage after the final bows, staying in-character to revel in the attention and applause.
- A 1991 episode of the American animated sitcom The Simpsons titled "Three Men and a Comic Book" (S02 E21), features the character Buddy Hodges asking the crowd at a comic book convention if they saw him play Rum Tum Tugger in the second national touring company of Cats.
- A 2013 episode of the American television series Glee titled "A Katy or A Gaga" (S05 E04), features the character Jake dressing up as a "lion" in what is clearly meant to be a nod to the Rum Tum Tugger, prompting him to say that he looks like a "gay thundercat".
- A 2015 episode of the American police sitcom Brooklyn Nine-Nine titled "The Chopper" (S02 E22), features the character Boyle saying that he wants his codename to be "Rum Tum Tugger".
- In the 2021 episode of the American adult animated series Helluva Boss titled "C.H.E.R.U.B", the character Blitzo dresses up as Tugger.