Despite successful, two-decade runs in London and on Broadway, it’s no secret that Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats has been losing out for years to hip-hop. Young audiences who once shouldered boomboxes blaring “Memory” and “Bustopher Jones: The Cat About Town” were increasingly lost to rap—first through natural gateways like MC Skat Kat and “The Garfield Rap,” then eventually moving onto non-cat rappers who similarly provided the sound of the streets, where cats live. But now Webber has a scheme to bring them all back to his side by launching a revamped version of Cats with “a hip-hop flavor” (one of the most delicious flavors a West End musical can have). Specifically, Cats will now have a “rapping street cat,” because of literary tradition.
“I’ve come to the conclusion that … maybe [T.S.] Eliot was the inventor of rap,” said definitely not desperate person Andrew Lloyd Webber, of his organic, academically derived decision to transform the poet’s character Rum Tum Tugger into a “rapping street cat.” Webber continued, “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’”—all to a reporter who smiled politely, wondering how one would even begin to reply to that.
Catz is expected to run at London’s Palladium for 12 weeks, beginning this December. After that, presumably it will be retooled to also incorporate popular cat memes, based on Webber’s belief that Eliot’s The Waste Land makes him inventor of the Internet.