Theatrical cats like Ike the piano playing cat (right) could be reintroduced to London’s theatre district as part of an ongoing bid to improve actors’ working conditions in the West End.
The strategy has been proposed to address complaints of rats, sewage and insufficient backstage facilities in a number of the capitals ageing venues. It’s just part of a strategy to prompt theatre owners to rectify the problems.
If the proposal is passed the union will push for a widespread reintroduction of cats to theatre buildings in a bid to combat the proliferation of vermin therein. According to the motion, there has been a marked rise in vermin infestation over the last few years and notes that cats not only represent an environmentally sound alternative to poison and traps, but [are] also good for morale.
However, Richard Pulford, SOLT’s chief executive, casts doubts on the effectiveness of Equitys proposal, saying, My understanding is that rats normally see off cats. And if anybody knows a building in central London with substantial basements which doesnt have rats, they are doing pretty well.
Famous London Theatre Cats
Over the years, West End cats have achieved pinnacles of renown that their thespian friends might well envy. Here are just a couple of the famous felines:
Beerbohm was perhaps the most famous of the London theatre cats, a resident at the Gielgud Theatre from the 70s until the early 90s, when he retired to Kent with the theatres carpenter. Described as a “regal looking tabby,” he was known for venturing out on the boards at least once during each performance. He died peacefully in March 1995 and a photo of him still hangs in the Gielgud. He is the only cat to have received an obituary in The Stage.
Boy Cat (pictured, right) resided at the Noel Coward Theatre. Boy Cat famously ate Princess Margarets bouquet at a royal gala and jumped onto the stage during a performance of the musical Five Guys Named Moe.
Lilian resided at the St Georges theatre in Islington, and was known for sitting in the third row of the stalls.
Sadler frequented the Sadlers Wells Theatre. He disappeared under mysterious circumstances early in February 1956, weeks before he was to star in a run of School for Fathers.