Mr. Mistoffelees

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Mr. Mistoffelees
Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats and Cats character
Dariusz Wiórkiewicz as Sierściuch, Patryk Gładyś as Turbo Ptyś, Robert Adamczewski as Alonzo, Karol Tymiński as Raptus Zuch (Rumpus Cat) and Paweł Irmiński as Mefistofeliks (Mr Mistoffelees) in the musical "Cats" in Roma Musical Theatre in Warsaw in December 2007.
Created by T. S. Eliot
Nickname(s) Mistoffelees
Aliases Quaxo
Species Cat

Mr. Mistoffelees is a character in T. S. Eliot's poetry book Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats and its stage adaptation, Andrew Lloyd Webber's popular musical Cats. He is an important primary character, and one of the most popular of the show. He is also sometimes named Quaxo.

The poem[edit]

Mistoffelees' name derives from the demon Mephistopheles. However, the character is not sinister as the name implies, and instead is described by Eliot as being "the original conjuring cat", who is "always 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. These traits are portrayed as amusing, not fearsome or particularly deadly.

Mr. Mistoffelees (Excerpt)
He is quiet and small, he is black

From his ears to the tip of his tail;
He can creep through the tiniest crack,
He can walk on the narrowest rail.
He can pick any card from a pack,
He is equally cunning with dice;
He is always deceiving you into believing
That he's only hunting for mice.
He can play any trick with a cork
Or a spoon and a bit of fish-paste;
If you look for a knife or a fork
And you think it is merely misplaced--
You have seen it one moment, and then it is gawn!

But you'll find it next week lying out on the lawn.

T. S. Eliot, Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats

In the musical[edit]

In Cats, Mistoffelees is a principal role and maintains most of the same attributes as Eliot's original character, although he is much flashier. He has his own song and an 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 original London Cast, Mistoffelees also sang "The Old Gumbie Cat"; and in the original Broadway production, he sang "Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer". However, the song was reworked to allow those two characters to sing it. 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 Mistoffelees.

Mistoffelees performs the most difficult choreography in the show, including 24 fouettés en tournant and dancers cast in the role frequently have extensive ballet and gymnastic 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. Unlike most of the other cats, he is not impressed by Rum Tum Tugger, although Tugger sings his song for him. They appear to have some kind of love-hate relationship. He is also the second one to touch and accept Grizabella back into the tribe. He is also quite good friends with the pure white kitten Victoria.


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 a pure black costume would be completely lost under stage lighting. He wears two costumes, a basic black hatched leotard with white chest and fluffy warmers through the majority of the show. However for his feature song, he has a far more glamorous black velvet and rhinestone costume, with a black jacket fitted with electric flashing fairy lights to make the most spectacular and magical entrance.


Wayne Sleep portrayed Mistoffelees for the first time in 1981. Timothy Scott then played him in the first Broadway production in 1982. Actors who have portrayed Mistoffelees onstage include Louie Spence, Gen Horiuchi, Randy Slovacek and George de la Peña. In the 1998 DVD production of the show, Mistoffelees is portrayed by Jacob Brent, reprising his Broadway role. In the 2016 Broadway revival the part is played by Ricky Ubeda.

In popular culture[edit]

When Neil Patrick Harris hosted Saturday Night Live in 2009, Bobby Moynihan played Mr. Mistoffelees in a "Save Broadway" sketch.[1]


  1. ^ [1] Archived 2 November 2012 at the Wayback Machine.