The filmed production of the musical Cats, by Andrew Lloyd Webber and based on the works of T S Eliot's Book of Practical Cats, was released on video in 1998. The film was shot in London’s Adelphi Theatre, directed by David Mallet. The soundtrack for the film was recorded with a seventy piece orchestra to create a full digital sound. In the film, the license plate on the car that can be seen at the back of the stage reads “TSE 1″ for T.S. Eliot – whose collection of poetry, Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, inspired Andrew Lloyd Webber’s award-winning musical. The film is commonly referred to by fans as "The Cats Video".
The Cats film production was essentially the contemporary London version of the show, with elements such as the re-written version of "Mungojerrie and Rumpleteaser", and where there was a discrepancy between the London and Broadway versions, the London version was used. However to retain an international flavour to the film, the Broadway names for "Plato" (Admetus), "Tumblebrutus" (Bill Bailey) and "Pouncival" (Carbucketty) were used.
Andrew Lloyd Webber had been considering making a film of the musical since at least the early 1990s. Originally the plan was to make an Animated Film with Amblimation studios, however when plans to animate the show fell through, the live action staged film was made instead.
The film was recorded over a course of two weeks, in September/October 1997. The cast initially ran through the musical three times to film the group shots, then the rest of the time involved shooting individual numbers to film close-ups. Unfortunately filming of the "Gus: The Theatre Cat" section ran over-time which resulted in "Growltiger's Last Stand" being cut from the final film as there wasn't time to film the complex dream sequence.
Costumes and Make Up
The film features the costume designs used in the London production, which are notably different from their Broadway counterparts. The makeup designs were softened, with the strongest lines removed, as stage makeup would be over-powering in closeup.
The cast of the film consisted of a mixture of contemporary Broadway and West End actors reprising their roles for the film along with numerous original cast members, notably original London cast members Elaine Paige, Susan Jane Tanner, and Femi Taylor, along with original Broadway cast member Ken Page.
Several actors in the recording were credited as being dubbed; this was done for a variety of reasons.
Jemima's voice was dubbed by young opera singer Helen Massey, as the production team were afraid Veerle Castelyn would have a noticeable dutch accent. Similarly, Geoffrey Garratt as Skimbleshanks was dubbed over by David Arniel in order to give the character a particular Scottish accent.
Mungojerrie and Rumpleteaser are also credited as being dubbed ; however, those familiar with Drew Varley and Jo Gibb and/or Paul Baker and Vicki Coote (who are credited with the dubbed voices), will recognise that the voices in the recording are indeed Drew Varley and Jo Gibb themselves. One possible explanation for this is that dubbed vocals were recorded, but ultimately discarded, or possibly the *giggle* "shush" at the beginning of the number was kept from the dubbing.