Skimbleshanks is a featured character in the musical Cats. He is an energetic ginger tabby known as "the Railway Cat" who works aboard the Night Mail, a British West Coast Main Line train which ran from London to Scotland.
|“||Caring, Bright, Self-regarding||”|
Skimbleshanks is one of the adults of the tribe, always protecting the kittens whenever danger is near. Despite this, he is a jolly and cheerful cat, often seen dancing and being silly with the younger toms. He is a very animated character and can be remembered by his signature gigantic smile and bright personality. In the 1998 film, he is often seen holding hands with Jennyanydots. He also spends a good deal of time with Jemima. He is also close with Old Deuteronomy, as Old Deuteronomy is seen dancing to his number (though this could simply be Old Deuteronomy showing a more jovial side).
In most productions, he is portrayed as older, being about Jennyanydot's age, but in some productions, he's portrayed as a younger adult cat.
Skimbleshanks is the cat aboard the British West Coast Main Line train; the Night Mail. He takes great pride in his work keeping the watch, mousing and helping out aboard the train. He takes great pride in his work and considers himself very important, as the train would not operate without him. Skimbleshanks appears in the ensemble throughout the show, before he dons his uniform waistcoat for his number, Skimbleshanks: The Railway Cat.
|“||Strong singer (high baritone.tenor) and good dancer. The railway cat, a lover of punctuality and order, he is neat and full of exuberance. Experienced.||”|
Skimbleshanks is one of the more prominent characters in the show; he has a variety of lines in the group songs, but also has a song of his own ("Skimbleshanks the Railway Cat"). He is also the third one (in the movie) to finally touch and smile at Grizabella and accept her back into the tribe and showed that he was sorry for rejecting and turning his back on her. He also finally trusts her and no longer considers her a threat to the tribe and waves goodbye to her when she enters the heaviside layer to be reborn.
Skimbleshanks is a ginger tabby cat, with a "long brown tail" and "glass green eyes". His unitard is usually a shade of cream, with ginger and brown markings. Usually his costume does not include black or solid lines, instead being painted or sponged to create texture. He has a neatly groomed wig with distinctive tabby stripes, often including long "Mutton-Chop" sideburns.
For his solo number, Skimbleshanks adds a waistcoat, with a shirt collar and pocket watch. He also changes his soft brown armwarmers for grey cable knit warmers with elbow patches. This additional costume tells us about his important job on the railway - the smart shirt collar and waistcoat, and particularly the pocket watch, tell us he has authority to make sure the train leaves on time. However the grey armwarmers with the practical elbow patches say he works manually, to the point his clothes need reinforcement. Finally he wears an over-size bell, which marks him as a cat who is cared for by the humans that he considers he works with.
"Skimbleshanks the Railway Cat" falls in the middle of act 2 of the show. It's sung by Skimbleshanks and the Jellicle Tribe, telling the story of a typical trip on the Night Mail for Skimbleshanks.
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