Belle's Domain

Gus: The Theatre Cat

Gus is the Cat at the Theatre Door.
His name, as I ought to have told you before,
Is really Asparagus. That's such a fuss
To pronounce, that we usually call him just Gus.
His coat's very shabby, he's thin as a rake,
And he suffers from palsy that makes his paw shake.
Yet he was, in his youth, quite the smartest of Cats -
But no longer a terror to mice and to rats.
For he isn't the Cat that he was in his prime;
Though his name was quite famous, he says, in his time.
And whenever he joins his friends at their club
(Which takes place at the back of the neighbouring pub)
He loves to regale them, if someone else pays,
With anecdotes drawn from his palmiest days.
For he once was a Star of the highest degree -
He has acted with Irving, he's acted with Tree.
And he likes to relate his success on the Halls,
Where the Gallery once gave him seven cat-calls.
But his grandest creation, as he loves to tell,
Was Firefrorefiddle, the Fiend of the Fell.

`I have played, in my time, every possible part,
And I used to know seventy speeches by heart.
I'd extemporize back-chat, I knew how to gag,
And I know how to let the cat out of the bag.
I knew how to act with my back and my tail;
With an hour of rehearsal, I never could fail.
I'd a voice that would soften the hardest of hearts,
Whether I took the lead, or in character parts.
I have sat by the bedside of poor Little Nell;
When the Curfew was rung, then I swung on the bell.
In the Pantomime season I never fell flat
And I once understudied Dick Whittington's Cat.
But my grandest creation, as history will tell,
Was Firefrorefiddle, the Fiend of the Fell.'

And if someone will give him a toothful of gin,
He will tell how he once played a part in East Lynne.
At a shakespeare performance he once walked on pat,
When some actor suggested the need for a cat.

'And I say now, these kittens, they do not get trained
As we did in the days when Victoria reigned.
They never get drilled in a regular troupe,
And they think they are smart, just to jump through a hoop.'
And he says, as he scratches himself with his claws,
`Well, the Theatre's certainly not what it was.
These modern productions are all very well,
But there's nothing to equal, from what I hear tell,
That moment of mystery
When I made history
As Firefrorefiddle, the Fiend of the Fell.'

'I once crossed the stage on a telegraph wire
To rescue a child when the house was on fire.
And I think that I still can, much better than most,
Produce blood-curdling noises to bring on the ghost.
And I once played Growltiger, could do it again.
Could do it again,
could do it again...'

Gus and Asparagus
Photos of Asparagus are a rare find indeed. Usually the actor who plays Gus, The Theatre Cat, also plays Bustopher Jones. He also has an ensemble role, "Asparagus" as opposed to "just Gus", but he has very little stage time. And, of course, Gus the Theatre Cat in turn plays Growltiger - who is, it seems, far more photogenic. Asparagus' one moment in the spotlight is at the end of "Jellicle Songs" where he leads into "The Naming of Cats". usually. But not always.

With distinctive shawl
On right, back to us
Strolling at the back
Behind Victor.  Oh, alright, left of Jenny Bottom left


Australia 1989

Japan 2001


UK tour 2007