Rum Tum Tugger Will Rap in the West End Revival of 'Cats'

Somehow, Cats just got more ridiculous.

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Somehow, Cats just got more ridiculous. Yes, Andrew Lloyd Webber's oft-ridiculed musical based on a series of T.S. Eliot poems about felines is getting a revival next year in the West End, and the Associated Press reports that this time around, Lloyd Webber has decided to make Rum Tum Tugger a "rapping street cat."

And just when you think that sounds like it has the potential to be a) the worst thing ever and b) really quite offensive, Lloyd Webber told the AP: "I've come to the conclusion that ... maybe Eliot was the inventor of rap." So, let that sink in for a second. Lloyd Webber is crediting an American-born expat poet, whose anti-Semitism and racism has often been cause for condemnation and debate, as the inventor of an African-American tradition. "The thing about the Eliot verse is that you can tell he's American. Nobody other than Eliot would have written 'The Rum Tum Tugger is a curious cat,'" Webber continued.

Of note, musical theater is aligning itself with rap these days: at the Tony Awards, Hugh Jackman said that Music Man composer Meredith Wilson "might have actually created one of the very first rap songs ever back in 1957," and then proceeded to rap the opening number, "Rock Island," with LL Cool J and T.I.

Rum Tum Tugger was previously portrayed as a sort of Bowie-esque glam-rock type. Let the memory live again...

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.