Scene from the sketch Song of the Jellicles

Scene from the sketch Song of the Jellicles

Scene from the sketch Song of the Jellicles in The Punch Revue
1955
London
Museum no. TM 897-41
© Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Punch was founded in 1841 and for 150 years continued its tradition of humorous political and social comment and cartoons. In the 1955 The Punch Revue almost all the material was adapted from, or contributed by, writers and cartoonists for the magazine. As its then editor Malcolm Muggeridge explained, they tried to 'reproduce the present temper for this curious, apparently indestructible publication'. The revue included two poems by the American poet T.S.Eliot, taken from his popular Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats. They were spoken by Paul Daneman, accompanied by dances set to music by Alan Rawsthorne. The two dancers pictured are Malcolm Goddard (who later went on to become a respected choreographer) and 21 year old Wendy McClure, whose first big break this was. Nowadays of course, 'The Song of the Jellicles' and 'The Old Gumbie Cat' are more familiar to most people in their settings by Andrew Lloyd Webber, who used the Old Possum poems to create his phenomenally successful musical Cats.