"The Rum Tum Tugger" is an upbeat, high-energy rock song introducing the titular Rum Tum Tugger and establishing him as the charismatic rockstar of the tribe. He is the second featured character we are introduced to.
"The Rum Tum Tugger is a Curious cat" - he wants to be the centre of attention and interrupts Jennyanydots' applause. The kittens adore him, joining in and copying his moves, while the older cats hang back and disapprove of his "disobliging ways". He is a rebellious rockstar, revelling in the attention, be it positive or negative.
Depending on the production, some combination of Mistoffelees, Munkustrap and Alonzo describes Tugger as "a terrible bore", distancing themselves from the younger cats joyfully dancing along. Bombalurina calls him "a curious beast", and flirts with him, however he literally drops her explaining "I only like what I find for myself". She brushes it off and continues to dance for his attention.
During the dance break, Tugger usually runs into the audience, interacting with people (kissing a lady's hand, polishing a bald head with his tail, showing off his bottom, ruffling hair, etc.), then he selects a girl in the front row and asks her to dance with him. At this point, Tugger has been known to get up to all kinds of mischief, and so the actor takes the opportunity to improvise in character. He then leaps back onstage in time for the final chorus.
As the song comes to a close, Tugger takes position centre stage, surrounded by adoring kittens hanging on his final words. One of the kittens (usually Etcetera or Rumpleteazer) is so over-excited by his presence that she gets carried away screaming, until he physically quiets her, which allows him to sing his final line.
After his applause, Tugger is just about to get into a lively reprise of his anarchic song, when Grizabella appears and disrupts the upbeat mood.
"The Rum Tum Tugger" is a flashy funk rock number, with strong rhythmic gestures and a heavy pop beat. It is mainly set to a 4/4 meter, occasionally flitting to 2/4, and has a tempo of 120 beats per minute. The song is composed in the key of A major. Tugger's vocals span from D4 to D6 (falsetto).
The orchestra begins playing a reprise after the song has ended, only to be interrupted by Grizabella's motif as she enters for the first time.
The dance break has an instrument solo. In early productions (mostly Broadway based), had a saxophone solo. In the 1998 filmed version and productions after that (Such as ones mirroring the 2003 UK tour), had a electric guitar solo. The Paris version had both.
- "The Rum Tum Tugger" from the 1981 London cast recording
- "The Rum Tum Tugger" from the 1983 Broadway cast recording
- "The Rum Tum Tugger" from the 2019 movie soundtrack
In 1985, a music video for "The Rum Tum Tugger" was filmed. It was the first ever music video created for a Broadway show.
- Starring: Terrence V. Mann as Rum Tum Tugger
- With: Charlotte d'Amboise (Cassandra), Jane Bodle (Demeter), Paige Dana (Etcetera), Denise DiRenzo ("Greycat" swing), Marlene Danielle (Bombalurina), Dodie Pettit ("AJ" swing), Valerie C Wright (Victoria)
- Executive Producer: The Schubert Organization
- Production Company: Creative Concepts/New York
- Director: Jeff Lee
- Producers: Lou Vetter, Richie Vetter, Lou Fusaro
- Director of Photography: Michael Negrin
- Editor: David Seeger (Today Video/New York)
- Music Engineer: Joe Arlotta
- Choreography: Thom Reed, Michael Scott Gregory
- Makeup: René Clemente
- The Megamusical, Indiana University Press (2006). Page 149. ISBN 978-0-253-34793-0.