With an entire musical based on the work of Tupac Shakur running on Broadway, it’s clear that the theatrical world has finally embraced hip-hop—and the trend is starting to spread outside of New York. A new production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats opening in December on London’s West End plans to add a new twist to the 33-year-old musical: “curious cat” Rum Tum Tugger will now be rapping his parts.
Tugger has always been the musical’s edgiest character—Webber admits that Mick Jagger was an influence on his development—so giving him a hip-hop makeover makes some sense. According to the composer, Cats’s source material—T.S. Eliot’s poetry collection Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats—actually inspired the change: ”I’ve come to the conclusion,” Webber told the AP, “that … maybe Eliot was the inventor of rap.” That may come as a surprise to the Last Poets, Blowfly, or any of the dozens of other artists and musicians who’ve previously been credited with the form’s conception.
Webber and the show’s producers haven’t let out any more information about Rum Tum Tugger’s reboot—but we do have an exclusive peek at his new, hip-hop-friendly look: