Vote for your favourite Grizabella of all time in Cats
With Andrew Lloyd Webber‘s Cats available to watch online this week, we’re taking a look back at the best actresses in “Memory” to have played Grizabella. Once you’ve listened to all the purr-fect stars perform, vote for your favourite at the bottom and share your thoughts on Facebook and Twitter.
Who is your favourite Grizabella?
Although she’s considered to be the ‘First Lady of Musical Theatre’, did you know that Elaine Paige took over the role of Grizabella at late notice? After Judi Dench’s withdrawal from the show, Paige went on to originate the role at the New London Theatre in 1981, with “Memory” becoming one of her signature songs. Playing Grizabella in London for nine months, she went on to reprise the role in the 1998 filmed version. Aside from Cats, Paige has starred in Sunset Boulevard, Anything Goes, Evita and Grease.
Best known as the lead singer of the Pussycat Dolls, Nicole Scherzinger made her West End debut as Grizabella in 2014. Even though she played the role for just 12 weeks at the London Palladium, she earned an Olivier Award nomination for best actress in a supporting role in a musical. Unfortunately, she did not reprise her performance on Broadway. However, the Grammy Award-nominated singer continues to perform with musical stars.
Considered to be the queen of British soul, Beverley Knight also played the role of Grizabella in the West End revival of Cats in 2015. This isn’t the first time she’s succeeded in a leading role, having made her West End debut as Rachel Marron in The Bodyguard at the Adelphi. Knight will star in the world premiere of The Drifters Girl at the Garrick Theatre from October 2020.
Originating the role on Broadway in 1982, the American actress won a Tony Award for her performance as Grizabella. She went on to play the role for 18 months and sung “Memory” at the Kennedy Center Honors as part of a tribute to Andrew Lloyd Webber. Inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame in 2013, Betty Buckley’s notable credits include Sunset Boulevard and a US National tour of Hello, Dolly!.
Best known for winning The X Factor, the British popstar made her Broadway debut as Grizabella in the musical’s 2016 revival. However, audiences only had a few weeks to catch her in the role, as she played the role for a limited engagement of four months. During her music career, Leona Lewis has earned three Grammy Award nominations and has sold over 20 million records worldwide.
Kerry Ellis took over the role of Grizabella in 2015, performing in the musical’s London revival at the London Palladium. However, she’s well known for being the first British actress to play Elphaba in Wicked, as well as starring in productions of We Will Rock You at the Dominion Theatre and Oliver! at Theatre Royal Drury Lane.
Succeeding Elaine Paige as Grizabella at the New London Theatre, Marti Webb went on to play the role from 1983-1985, later reprising her performance in the musical’s first UK tour. Cats marked Webb’s second time following Paige in a production, previously taking over the role of Eva Peron in Evita. Webb’s notable theatre credits include Tell Me on a Sunday, Thoroughly Modern Millie and Godspell.
Although she’s never played the role on stage, Jennifer Hudson’s acclaimed performance in the 2019 film adaptation has earned her a spot as one of the greatest Grizabellas of all time. However, she’s no stranger to musical theatre, having made her Broadway debut and winning a Grammy Award for her performance in The Color Purple and playing Motormouth Maybelle in Hairspray Live!.