'Cats' Musical Wiki
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Some productions of Cats give the swings their own distinctive costumes and often their own character names. The practical application for this is that one performer may cover 4-5 small roles, and rather than have 5 separate costumes, he can wear the same swing costume for all the roles. This is also particularly useful when a female swing has to cover a male character, or vice versa.

In Australian-based productions, the swing characters appear onstage in certain scenes and interact with the audience. In UK and US-based productions, the characters are not given names and only appear onstage while covering a named role, except for special occasions. The UK Swings often appear in the official photocall as a means of giving the performers their due credit, however these images do not represent the performance. Since the 2013 tour, recent UK productions use the Electra and George (Palladium Pouncival) costumes for swings, and additional swings mix and match elements of extra costumes for photoshoot costumes.

The Oslo 1985 production named their swing characters "Kvesesta", "Potefar", and "Godnattakatt".

In some productions, such as the UK tours, the International Tour, and the Paris Revival, swings in the booth are fully in costume as a swing character or a neutral 'base' character onto which details of makeup can easily be added (e.g., Bill Bailey's unitard, Carbuckety's wig, and a makeup that resembles them both but which lacks the eye patches). This lets them 'swing on' immediately if necessary in their current costume, or make any quick adjustments if they have time. In other productions, including the 2020 Asia tour, booth swings are in 'plain clothes' and must get dressed from scratch if they have to swing on - so it is often more practical for performers who are already onstage to change costume and wig and do a quick change to the most characteristic parts of their makeup and shuffle from one character to another than to bring on a booth swing mid-show.

London Swings

In the early years of the original London production, there was an ensemble of un-named kitten characters, some of whom grew into named roles and others became swing costumes. Characters were cast strictly to height, the adults being notably taller than the kittens. This led to issues of costume fitting when a short swing would need to cover a tall character or vice versa. Each of the six swings had a distinctive costume, but if they have official names, they are unknown. For ease of reference they have been given nicknames by fans.

These London Swings were also used in the early UK tours, namely UK Tour 1989 and UK Tour 1993. They usually featured in the photocall for the brochure in the big group shots until the late 1990s. However Summer Strallen, a swing wearing NBQ, featured in the 2001 London photos.

"Greycat / NBQ"

This tall girl looks somewhat like a pale Cassandra. She is often called "Greycat" or "Nameless Brown Queen - NBQ" depending on the colouring of her costume, which varied from silver to tan. She is often used when the tall swing needs to play a kitten, such as Etcetera or Jemima.

"AJ"

This Swing looks similar to Jemima but with much less colour and more white on her body, sometimes called "Almost Jemima - AJ". She has been worn on occasions such as a female swing playing Carbucketty.

"Tabbygirl"

The last female swing looks rather like Victor, a dark brown Tabby, sometimes known as "Tabbygirl". She is often worn by the swing who covers more vocal heavy / adult roles, so appears more mature than a kitten.

The three male swings are harder to identify, as their unitard markings varied enormously and sometimes looked very like the ensemble boys. Their wig designs however were more consistent, but not necessarily paired with the same costume design.

"Patches"

The first of the boys has very defined patches in his makeup, and his unitard often resembles Admetus; however he's kitten height where Admetus is usually one of the tallest males.

"Calico"

The second swing boy sometimes resembles a male Etcetera, a calico male (which in real cats is a genetic anomaly, Calico cats are 99.9% female), with orange and grey stripes, and a strong orange and a black patch in his bangs.

"Caramel"

The last male swing is a tall boy often in rich brown and caramel colours, and can be mistaken for Victor.

Walking Cover

In addition to the Swings in London, the Walking Cover often appears in cast photos. However he does not need his own costume - the two roles he covers appear in their "Song" costumes, Old Deuteronomy and Gus. The walking cover can wear the "Basic Deuteronomy" costume worn by Old Deut for the opening number, or Asparagus' ensemble costume without causing any visible doubling up of characters.

UK Tour Swings

Early UK tours used the London swings. Since the 2013 tour however, UK productions have used the "George" (Palladium Pouncival), "[Victor]", and "Electra" (both traditional and "Lightning Electra") costumes for swings. The "Electra" costumes were used in performances when a female swing needed to cover the role of Carbucketty, with the "Lightning Electra" costume being a variation of the traditional Electra costume.

"George"

"Electra" / "Lightning Electra"

Unnamed Female Swing

Victor

'Baby' Alonzo

A swing character apparently only played by Alessandro Ripamonti in the Paris revival: Alonzo's unitard and wig but a relatively neutral makeup, with no eye or mouth patch, onto which the makeup of his other roles could quickly be superimposed. The name 'baby alonzo' or 'babylonzo' is how he and cast members tag the character on Instagram. See his page for more images.

Broadway Swings

In the early days of the original Broadway production, each swing was given their own costume to wear when they covered the ensemble/supporting roles.[1]

Male Swing #1 / "George"

This swing used the "George" costume[2] to cover the roles of Carbucketty / Pouncival / Tumblebrutus.[3]

Male Swing #2 / "Spike"

This swing costume was used to cover the roles of Alonzo / Plato / Tumblebrutus / Pouncival / Carbucketty.[4]

Male Swing #3

After Carbucketty was cut from the Broadway production in 1987, his costume design seems to have been used by swings to cover the role of Pouncival.

Male Swing #4

A male swing who looks very similar to Tumblebrutus, but his eye patch covers half of his face and his costume is more bronze-based.

Female Swing #1 / "Greycat"

This swing used the London "NBQ/Greycat" swing costume.

Female Swing #2 / "AJ"

This swing used the "Almost Jemima" (AJ) costume to cover the role of Sillabub[1] (and possibly other roles).

Female Swing #3

Female Swing "Babygriz"

The Babygriz costume also doubled as a swing costume.

US Tour Swings

"Spike"

A brown male swing was used in the US tours. By the 5th US tour, a male kitten swing was known as "Spike" among cast members[5][6] - this brown swing design may have been said "Spike".

Named Swings

The 1989 Australian Tour, and subsequent productions modelled on it, named all the swings, which can cause confusion when comparing to other productions as most of the names used have appeared as full ensemble characters elsewhere.

The swings, usually listed as "CATS Chorus" (not to be confused with the term referring to booth singers), each has their own costume, name, and personality, and function as on-stage ensemble, filling in large group dances and singing ensemble, unless the actor is required to cover another role, or is off themselves, in which case the chorus character will be cut for that performance.

Admetus, Bill Bailey, Carbucketty, Electra, Etcetera, Exotica, George, Jemima, Jonathan, Murad, Noilly Prat, Olivia, Quaxo and Victor have all been used as names for swings.

Admetus

When the London-based Admetus is replaced by Plato, his name is sometimes used for a male/female swing character instead.

Bill Bailey

When the London-based Bill Bailey is replaced by Tumblebrutus, his name is sometimes used for a male swing kitten instead. The swing performer usually covers the acrobatic male roles such as Mungojerrie and Tumblebrutus.

Carbucketty

When the London-based Carbucketty is replaced by Pouncival, his name is sometimes used for a male swing character instead. This swing character is described as "a playful cat, often jumping around." His performer usually covers the dance-heavy male roles such as Mistoffelees, Plato / Macavity, Pouncival.

Electra

When ensemble Electra is not used in a production, her name is sometimes used for a female swing kitten instead. Much like her ensemble version, this swing character is described as an orange-and-black kitten who is particularly close to Etcetera and a fan of the Rum Tum Tugger.[7]

Etcetera

When ensemble Etcetera is not used in a production, her name is sometimes used for a female swing kitten instead. Much like her ensemble version, this swing character is described as a happy and energetic kitten who is very infatuated with the Rum Tum Tugger.[8] Her performer usually covers the dance-heavy female roles such as Victoria, Cassandra and Tantomile.

Exotica

The name "Exotica" was first used to create a cameo role for Femi Taylor in the 1998 film of Cats - in this instance Exotica was not a swing. However the name has since been used for named swings in large productions.

George

The name "George" was originally used for a full ensemble character in the London production. Subsequent productions have since used the name for a male swing character, described as a "young male cat, lively and mischievous."[9] He is most commonly the male kitten swing.

Jemima

When the London-based Jemima is replaced by Sillabub, her name is sometimes used for a female swing character instead. This swing character is described as "a young female cat who is full of curiosity of the outside world."[10] Her performer usually covers the female kitten roles such as Sillabub.

Jonathan

Jonathan is a male swing character whose name is taken from "The Naming of Cats".

Murad

Murad is a swing character described as "a small male cat that often appears in high places."[11] The performer usually covers the adult male roles such as Skimbleshanks and Alonzo.

Noilly Prat

Noilly Prat is a swing character described as "a charming young female cat."[12] The performer usually covers the adult female roles such as Demeter.

Olivia

Olivia is a young female swing character.[13] The performer usually covers the adult female roles.

Quaxo

Quaxo is a young male swing character.[14] The performer usually covers the adult male roles such as Munkustrap and Rum Tum Tugger. The name "Quaxo" has also appeared as a full ensemble character in early productions, and the name is used as an alternate identity for Mistoffelees in London-based productions.

Victor

The name "Victor" was originally used for a full ensemble character in the original London production. The name has since been used for a male swing character, whose performer usually covers the elderly male roles such as Old Deuteronomy and Gus.

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Facebook comment by Christine Bogle: "How many Swing costumes were there for the cast way back then? I know that Dodie had one for Sillabub too." Reply by Brian Andrews: "we each had our own". May 2019
  2. Broadway swing Steven Hack (@steven_hack) tweeted on November 16, 2016, the design and photo with the comment: "Excited for Sunday's Cats alumni reunion! Does anyone wear the costume design John Napier made for me? #CatsBroadway #OriginalBroadwayCats"
  3. Cats - Broadway original cast backstage - Steven Hack make-up, Steven Hack (@SHack7498) on Youtube: "Actually, John Napier gave me an individual costume designed for a cat named "George", who originated in the London cast. The character was cut in NY, but he liked the design (which I have framed in my living room), so I got it and wore that costume, wig and make-up whenever I played Carbucketty, Tumblebrutus or Pouncival. I was the only one to wear that design until my successors."
  4. Facebook post by Brian Andrews (16 May 2019): "This was my basic swing costume that I wore for Plato, Tumblebrutus, Alonzo, Poucival and Carbucketty (which later on turned into Mungojerrie)".
  5. CATS Tour V - Trip Reports - Escondido, CA, msjellicle.com, 2002.
  6. CATS Tour V: Trip Reports: Seattle, WA, msjellicle.com, 2003.
  7. 资料:《猫》中文版演员-赵子璇, ent.sina.com.cn (5 Dec. 2012)
  8. 资料:《猫》中文版演员-余曼, ent.sina.com.cn (5 Dec. 2012)
  9. 资料:《猫》中文版演员-乃保钍呷, ent.sina.com.cn (5 Dec. 2012)
  10. 资料:《猫》中文版演员-陈雨朦, ent.sina.com.cn (5 Dec. 2012)
  11. 资料:《猫》中文版演员-刘海文, ent.sina.com.cn (5 Dec. 2012)
  12. 资料:《猫》中文版演员-刘诗雨, ent.sina.com.cn (5 Dec. 2012)
  13. 资料:《猫》中文版演员-丁汀, ent.sina.com.cn (5 Dec. 2012)
  14. 资料:《猫》中文版演员-冒海飞, ent.sina.com.cn (5 Dec. 2012)
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