Gallery/Ipswich: Cats actor Oliver invites you to the Jellicle Ball

Oliver Savile as Rum Tum Tugger in Cats, coming to the Regent December 2013. Picture: ALESSANDRO PIN

Oliver Savile as Rum Tum Tugger in Cats, coming to the Regent December 2013. Picture: ALESSANDRO PINNA - Credit: Archant

Actor Oliver Saville truly is the cat who got the cream.

Cats actor Oliver Savile

Cats actor Oliver Savile - Credit: Archant

He plays party cat Rum Tum Tugger in the touring production of Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats, which comes to the Ipswich Regent from December 9-14.

“He just wants to have fun. Some people say he’s based on Elvis… it’s that sort of rock and roll role, it’s a cracking part and I’m very fortunate and lucky to be playing it.”

The record-breaking musical, boasting songs such as Memory, is adapted from TS Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats and is blend of fantasy, drama and romance set on the night the Jellicle Cats meet for the Jellicle Ball.

Savile’s clearly having a ball, no pun intended, on stage.

“Absolutely,” he laughs. “One of my friends asked ‘are you still enjoying it’ and I was like ‘yeah, I really am; I just get to mess about on stage and call it my job as well’.”

I’ve caught him in the middle of doing his make-up ready for a matinee performance.

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“It took me about two-and-a-half hours when we first started; I’ve got it down to about 40 minutes now.”

Being artistic, Savile luckily proved a dab hand with the make-up brush.

“Obviously they don’t cast the show on whether or not you can do your own make-up,” he jokes, “I know a few of the boys struggled when we first started. It’s your face everybody’s looking at and you want to get it right every night.”

Any moments of professional jealousy when he looks at everybody else in the wings and thinks “theirs is better than mine”?

“It’s when you come off after the ball and look at everybody, we’ve just done 15 minutes of non-stop dancing and running about the stage just before the end of act one. Everybody comes off slightly trying to patch up their make-up for act two. You do have some (shows) where it falls off occasionally.”

The finishing touch is the costume – skin tight Lycra which leaves nothing to the imagination, says Savile.

“Me and the guy who plays Munkustrap have just been down the gym, we definitely do (put in extra time there),” he laughs.

“The costume’s comfortable but you sweat and there’s nowhere for it to go so it can get quite itchy. When we’re sat in the interval, we’re sort of sat in our sweat; it’s vile,” he laughs again, “the glamorous life of showbiz.”

There’s been a few times, jokes Savile, where he’s been tempted to not bother getting changed before heading home or out for a drink.

“I’ve gone out a few times with my make-up n, which I’m not supposed to, because you forget you’re wearing it. People are looking at you like ‘why are you…’ and you’re ‘oh yeah, I look like a cat only with no ears or tail or nothing’. That’s normally in-between shows when we have two a day.”

It’s at this point I confess I’ve never seen Cats – although a few weeks later I saw a stunning version by the Co-op Juniors Theatre Company – what am I missing?

“What aren’t you missing,” he laughs. “It’s a great show for all ages, everybody who comes enjoys it and you realise what a great show it is and why it’s been running for so long.

“We just have a small band but it still has an orchestral feel to it and the ball sounds incredible, they really do whack it up. Some of my numbers are really loud, rock and roll and sound great.

“We’re a fresh, young cast, giving it 120 per cent every single second; it’s such a feel-good show. We’re enjoying ourselves so you’ll be enjoying yourselves and we don’t stop from the word get go. I’m the only one really who has a bit of a break, the time to go to the toilet during the show,” he laughs.

“Even when you’re absolutely knackered, you hear the overture and think ‘let’s do the best show we possibly can’ which everybody always does because it’s Cats and it’s great fun no matter how tired you are.”

Producer David Ian says: “I am absolutely thrilled to be bringing Andrew Lloyd Webber’s iconic musical, Cats, to the Regent. Ipswich audiences love the big shows and CATS is one of the all-time greats. We have a top notch West End cast and I can promise everyone a really spectacular treat.”

The show is on its way to becoming one of the Regent’s best selling ever shows. Tickets are going fast.

“Cats is one of the largest shows we’ve ever presented at the theatre. It’s so large we’re even bringing shipping containers in to accommodate some of the production,” adds general manager David Mansfield. “Tickets have sold extremely well, with only a few left. Our customers really appreciate the quality of our week long shows that we are bringing to Ipswich.”

See next week’s Event for the chance to win tickets for Cats.