Andrew Lloyd Webber has hailed TS Eliot as the father of rap, as the musical Cats is set to return to the West End with a new hip-hop flavour.
Cats, which is based on TS Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, is to be staged at the London Palladium for a 12 week run from the beginning of December.
The show has been updated with Lord Lloyd Webber rewriting the music for the character Rum Tum Tugger who will become “a street cat for today”.
He said: “I came to the conclusion, having read Eliot again, that maybe he was the inventor of rap. His metre for the Rum Tum Tugger is so wonderful… it raps.”
The composer illustrated by quoting the opening lines to the poem: “The Rum Tum Tugger is a curious cat;/ If you offer him pheasant he would rather have grouse./ If you put him in a flat then he’d rather have a house.”
Lord Lloyd Webber said some of the set will be updated to include items such as mobile phones. He has also rewritten the song “Growltiger’s Last Stand”, saying it was “never my favourite moment”.
Cats opened at the New London Theatre in 1981, with a cast that included Elaine Paige, Brian Blessed and Sarah Brightman.
It became one of the longest running shows in the West End and on Broadway, playing for 21 years and being seen by more than 50 million people in more than 30 countries.