Cats is one of those things that's inescapable. The Andrew Lloyd Webber musical about biped felines has taken a toll on me particularly since I worked on a production of it starring seven year olds, but that's a whole different story. Right now, we're talking about how Yahoo! has reported that the West End's revival of Cats will be getting a rap twist. That's right, you read that correctly — now you can re-live that time you saw Cats for the first time, but eschew the heavy duty belting for some tough rhymes from some street cats.
Now, if I was the person interpreting this rapping redux of the musical, I'd create a cat character who hustles drugs or a kitty who's a street cat-walker — basically Rent, but with cats. Why not? The musical already features cat burglars and sexxxxy cats — and there is SO MUCH SPANDEX. Unfortunately, Andrew Lloyd Weber has not hired me to reinvent his beloved cat musical based on T.S. Eliot's collection of poems, so instead, I'll just tell you what Weber is planning.
He's making some tweaks to the show, and the formerly rock'n'rolling kitty, Rum Tum Tugger, is now going to be a rapping cat. Weber said that Eliot's poetry led him to this idea:
I've come to the conclusion that ... maybe Eliot was the inventor of rap [...] 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."
So naturally, this means that we should give the Cats revival's casting department some suggestions.
He can sing, he knows hip-hop, and he can act, given his turn as Jimi Hendrix in the upcoming biopic about the famous musician. Might he move to London for a 12 week run and don a cat suit? (Probably not, but he'd definitely have the stage presence to pull it off.)
He's got smooth enough vocals, and even though he's not really a rapper, he could probably do a Broadway-esque rap. He also had already successfully performed on Broadway as Billy Flynn in Chicago, and he constantly wore that raccoon hat on The Voice, which Vulture documented very carefully, so we already know how he looks in fur.
The rapper starred on Broadway in A Raisin in The Sun back in 2004, so might he be interested in wearing a cat suit for a West End turn as a rapping cat? Granted, Lorraine Hansberry's classic play and Weber's musical are on opposite ends of the theatrical canon, but a lifelong love of the theater taught me to believe in dreams and to always ask questions.
That's the Rum Tum Tugger, by the way. Pelvic thrusting his way into feline glory and your nightmares.
In all likelihood, we know that the rapping Rum Tum Tugger will just end up being some London theater actor or a New York transplant, flexing his feline muscles. But we're allowed to fantasize, right? Besides, if a movie is ever in the works, these would definitely be plausible casting options.
The real takeaway here is that Cats is coming back to London for 12 weeks beginning December 6, which means Cats will officially be in the popular conscience again, which means Cats jokes are relevant again. More importantly, if you plan on seeing the revival — then it also means that it's time to prepare yourself for a cavalcade of spandex-clad kitty cats. And rapping cats, of course.