Cats musical to feature rapping cat

Andrew Lloyd Webber and director Trevor Nunn on the reopening of Cats

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The hit musical Cats looks set to include a rapping feline when it returns to London's West End this year.

Composer Andrew Lloyd Webber said the character of Rum Tum Tugger would become "a street cat" in the show.

Cats, which has not been seen in London for 12 years, is based on TS Eliot's Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats.

"I've come to the conclusion having re-read Eliot, that maybe Eliot was the inventor of rap," Lord Lloyd-Webber said.

Start Quote

I've come to the conclusion having re-read Eliot, that maybe Eliot was the inventor of rap. ”

End Quote Andrew Lloyd Webber

He said he had also "completely rewritten" the song Growltiger's Last Stand because "it was never my favourite moment of the show".

The composer was speaking at a launch event at the London Palladium on Monday, where Cats will run for 12 weeks from 6 December.

The musical has been seen by more than 50 million people in more than 30 countries since it premiered in 1981. It ran for 21 years in London and 18 years on Broadway. It is currently on a UK tour.

Over the years, the show has attracted many stars to its cast, including Elaine Paige, Wayne Sleep, Bonnie Langford and Brian Blessed.

The original show's director Sir Trevor Nunn said: "There's a whole new generation of kids who haven't seen it or discovered it."

Speaking to the BBC at the launch event, Lord Lloyd-Webber said he had wanted to "rework" a couple of the poems - including Rum Tum Tugger - for many years.

Director Trevor Nunn, composer Andrew Lloyd Webber and choreographer Gillian Lynne pose during a photocall for Cats The new Cats show reunites original members of the creative team: (l-r) director Trevor Nunn, composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, choreographer Gillian Lynne and designer John Napier (not pictured)

"I'm not changing what Eliot wrote, but if you read that poem and you get a rapper to do it - don't ask me to do it - it's quite interesting."

The composer's most recent musical Stephen Ward, about the man at the centre of the 1960s Profumo scandal, closed in March after a West End run of less than four months.

Lord Lloyd-Webber said he had no immediate plans to rework it.

"It didn't hit the public zeitgeist at all," he told the BBC.

"It's had a very positive reaction from a very small and influential group of people so it definitely will make a reappearance but I'm not going to push it.

"If somebody wants to do it again I'll consider it."

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