(sometimes written as Mistoffolees
) is a character in T. S. Eliot
book Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats
and its stage adaptation, the musical Cats
Mistoffelees' name derives from the demon Mephistopheles
. However, the character is not as sinister as the name implies, and instead is described by Eliot as being "the original conjuring cat", who is "deceiving you into believing that he's only hunting for mice" — a mysterious "quiet and small" black feline capable of performing feats of magic and sleight of hand.
In Cats, Mistoffelees is a supporting role and maintains most of the same attributes as Eliot's original character, although he is much flashier. He has his own song and extended dance solo in the second act of the show, and, in most productions, also sings the "Invitation to the Jellicle Ball" in the first act. In the West End staging, Mistoffelees also sings "The Old Gumbie Cat"; in the original Broadway production, he sang "Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer" (the number was reconceptualized a couple of years after the show opened). In some versions of the musical, he is given a second name, 'Quaxo'. Often his "chorus" version is known as Quaxo, and his special song costume is known as Mistoffolees.
Mistoffelees performs some of the most difficult choreography in the show, including a lengthy series of fouetté turns, and dancers cast in the role frequently have extensive ballet experience. Because the role's technical demands necessarily trump the performer's vocal abilities, the show permits multiple vocal tracks for the character--thereby allowing some dancers to sing quite a bit, while others do no singing at all.
Although the poetry is specific about his appearance being "Black/from the ears to the tip of his tail", the practicalities of stage costume mean he is usually portrayed as a black and white tuxedo
cat (as seen above). A pure black costume would be completely lost under stage lighting. He wears two costumes, a basic black hatched unitard with white chest and fluffy warmers through the majority of the show. However for his feature song, he has a far more glamourous black velvet and rhinestone costume, with a black jacket fitted with electric flashing fairy lights to make the most spectacular and magical entrance.
Actors who have portrayed Mistoffelees onstage include Wayne Sleep
, Timothy Scott, Gen Horiuchi
, Shane Hall, Eddie Buffum, George de la Pena
and Connor Sweeney. In the 1998 DVD production
of the show, Mistoffelees is portrayed by Jacob Brent
, reprising his Broadway role. And this February 2008, the role was played by Darwin Valdez. In the US Tour of Cats (2007-2008) the role was portrayed by Chris Mackenthun, US Tour (2008-2009) will be played by Jonathan Mercer.
Mistoffelees is referenced in Tim Minchin
's free verse poem Perineum Millennium
. The track is heavily based on the works of T. S. Eliot.
Mistoffelees is also the name of the cat familiar owned by Penny Dreadful in the Mage: the Ascension universe.
He is also mentioned in the movie Team America World Police.
- Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats, T. S. Eliot, Harcourt, 1982, ISBN 0-15-168656-4
- A Cat's Diary: How the Broadway Production of Cats was born, Stephen Hanan, Smith & Kraus, 2002, ISBN 1-57525-281-3
- Mr. Mistoffelees and other poems, T. S. Eliot, Errol Le Cain, Faber & Faber, 1990, ISBN 0-571-15347-X