Rum Tum Tugger

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Rum Tum Tugger
Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats / Cats character
RumTumTugger.PNG
Rum Tum Tugger, portrayed by John Partridge in the 1998 Cats film.
Created byT. S. Eliot
Portrayed by
In-universe information
SpeciesCat (Maine Coon)[1]
GenderMale
AffiliationJellicle cats

Rum Tum Tugger is one of the many feline characters in the 1939 poetry book Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats by T. S. Eliot, and in the 1981 musical Cats which is based on Eliot's book. Rum Tum Tugger is a rebellious Jellicle cat who loves to be the center of attention.

The role of Rum Tum Tugger was originated by Paul Nicholas on the West End in 1981, and by Terrence Mann on Broadway in 1982. Then, in the 1998 video production, he was performed by John Partridge. Jason Derulo portrayed Rum Tum Tugger in the 2019 film adaptation.

Origins[edit]

In T. S. Eliot's Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats, Rum Tum Tugger is described as a rebel cat who cannot help but be difficult. He is never satisfied with what you give him;

The Rum Tum Tugger is a Curious Cat:[1]
If you offer him pheasant he would rather have grouse.
If you put him in a house he would much prefer a flat,
If you put him in a flat then he'd rather have a house.
If you set him on a mouse then he only wants a rat,
If you set him on a rat then he'd rather chase a mouse.

He is notoriously hard to please and sets himself apart from others by trying to be different. He always does the opposite of what is expected of him and by the end of the poem the reader is left with the idea that the Rum Tum Tugger is deviously self-centered and relishes in being so. The three words that are used to describe his character given to each performer who plays the role are "perverse, preening, and independent".

Musical[edit]

Character[edit]

Rum Tum Tugger is a rebellious and unappeasable cat.[2] He loves the limelight,[2] while at the same time enjoys being seen as an individual by separating himself a little from the tribe. A ladies' man, the female kittens (Victoria, Etcetera, Electra and Jemima) are in awe of him, and he flirts openly with almost every female cat in the 1998 film adaptation (especially Bombalurina), although Demeter seems to dislike him deeply. He also flirts heavily with Mr. Mistoffelees, even going so far as to sing a ballad about how talented he is.[3] His older brother, the serious and responsible Munkustrap, often has to keep him in line.[4]

Rum Tum Tugger is often portrayed as a rock star-esque cat,[5] and Andrew Lloyd Webber has stated that part of the character is intended to be an homage to Mick Jagger of The Rolling Stones. In an attempt to modernize the show, Rum Tum Tugger was revamped into a street rapper in the 2014 West End revival.[5]

The role is usually played by a rock tenor[6] with a strong falsetto register.[7][8]

As a major character part, Tugger is a principal singing role with several solos. He sings solo in his own song, "The Rum Tum Tugger", as well as "Magical Mr. Mistoffelees". He sings "Old Deuteronomy" with Munkustrap.

Appearance[edit]

Rum Tum Tugger is a black tom cat with leopard spots on his chest and a wild mane; he wears a spiked collar and a belt covered with silver rhinestones.[9] His cat breed was said to be Maine Coon, because of his wild mane and being portrayed as being much bigger than the other cats.[1]

Notable casting[edit]

The role of Rum Tum Tugger was originated by Paul Nicholas in the West End in 1981,[10] and by Terrence Mann on Broadway in 1982.[11] The character was played by Antoine Murray-Straughan and Marcquelle Ward in the 2014 and 2015 West End revivals respectively,[12][13] and by Tyler Hanes in the 2016 Broadway revival.[14]

On screen, he was played by John Partridge in the 1998 film adaptation, and by Jason Derulo in the 2019 film adaptation.[15]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Eliot, T.S. Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats.
  2. ^ a b "Rum Tum Tugger". Cats the musical (official website). Archived from the original on 19 March 2019. Retrieved 20 March 2019.
  3. ^ "Mr. Mistoffelees lyrics". Metrolyrics. Retrieved 16 February 2021.
  4. ^ "Munkustrap". Cats the musical (official website). Archived from the original on 25 March 2019. Retrieved 20 March 2019.
  5. ^ a b Singh, Anita (7 July 2014). "Cats: classic musical to feature a rapping cat". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 1 April 2019.
  6. ^ "Cast / Vocal Requirements: Cats". The Musical Company. Retrieved 2 April 2019.
  7. ^ "Cats". Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. Archived from the original on 30 March 2019. Retrieved 30 March 2019.
  8. ^ "Cats Audition" (PDF). Vereinigte Bühnen Wien. Archived (PDF) from the original on 30 March 2019. Retrieved 30 March 2019.
  9. ^ Sternfeld 2006, p. 132
  10. ^ "Original London Cast List". Really Useful Group. Archived from the original on 15 August 2008. Retrieved 30 March 2019.
  11. ^ "Original Broadway Cast List". Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved 30 March 2019.
  12. ^ Shenton, Mark (24 October 2014). "Complete Casting Announced for Cats at London Palladium". Playbill. Archived from the original on 26 March 2019. Retrieved 26 March 2019.
  13. ^ Shenton, Mark (28 September 2015). "Full Casting Announced for the Return of Cats to London Palladium". Playbill. Archived from the original on 19 April 2019. Retrieved 20 April 2019.
  14. ^ "Inside the Playbill: Cats – Opening Night at the Neil Simon Theatre: Cast". Playbill. Archived from the original on 24 March 2019. Retrieved 24 March 2019.
  15. ^ Schaefer, Sandy (13 December 2018). "Cats Movie Musical Officially Begins Filming; Full Cast Revealed". Screen Rant. Retrieved 21 March 2019.

Print sources[edit]