Grizabella

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Paige as Grizabella in the 1998 Cats video

Grizabella the Glamour Cat is a main character in the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Cats. A lonely and decrepit outcast, Grizabella seeks acceptance from the other Jellicle cats but is initially ostracised. She sings the most well-known song from the musical, "Memory".

The role was originated by Elaine Paige in the West End in 1981, and by Betty Buckley on Broadway in 1982. Buckley won the 1983 Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical for her portrayal.

Character[edit]

Grizabella is, at the time of her appearance, a very old and decrepit cat, withered to the point that she no longer resembles the glamorous cat of her youth. Having left the Jellicle tribe a long time ago, she is now all alone and left with only the memories of her happier days. She returns to the tribe seeking re-acceptance, but her fellow Jellicles are initially repulsed by her and repeatedly shun her.[1][2]

Grizabella makes her entrance early on in the first act of the musical. She approaches the other cats, but they treat her like a pariah as Demeter and Bombalurina explain who she is ("Grizabella: The Glamour Cat"). She comes back at the end of the first act, watching from afar as the other cats dance at the Jellicle Ball. Grizabella attempts to replicate their dance moves but realises she is too weak; she sings a prelude to "Memory" as she contemplates her plight. Grizabella makes her final appearance towards the end of the musical. This time, she addresses the cats by singing the full version of "Memory" in which she pleads for their understanding and acceptance. She collapses in the middle of the song but is encouraged to press on by the kitten Jemima (also known as Sillabub). After the song, Victoria approaches Grizabella and touches her as a sign of acceptance. The other cats soon follow and welcome her back into the tribe. Grizabella is then led to the Jellicle leader Old Deuteronomy; her initial shock turns to happiness as she begins her ascendance to the Heaviside Layer (the Jellicle version of heaven).[3]

"Memory" is the most well-known song from the musical and has been recorded around 600 times (as of 2006) by artists including Barbra Streisand, Barry Manilow, Johnny Mathis,[4] Michael Crawford and Kikki Danielsson.[5]

The role of Grizabella requires a wide vocal range and the ability to belt to E♭.[6][7]

Origins[edit]

Although Cats is based on T. S. Eliot's Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats, Grizabella does not appear in the published source material. Instead, the character came from an unpublished poem by Eliot titled "Grizabella the Glamour Cat" that had been given to Lloyd Webber by Eliot's widow and literary executor, Valerie Eliot.[8] Although the poem had been rejected from Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats for being "too sad for children",[9] it became the basis for Grizabella's character-defining song in the musical ("Grizabella: The Glamour Cat"). The poem centres on a former glamour cat who has fallen on hard times and now roams the red-light district near Tottenham Court.[10]

Additionally, the introduction for "Grizabella: The Glamour Cat" is taken almost word-for-word from a verse in another Eliot poem titled "Rhapsody on a Windy Night", with Grizabella as the feline version of the fallen woman:[11]

Remark the woman
Who hesitates toward you in the light of the door
Which opens on her like a grin.
You see the border of her dress
Is torn and stained with sand,
And you see the corner of her eye
Twists like a crooked pin.

— Excerpt from "Rhapsody on a Windy Night", T. S. Eliot[12]

Notable performers[edit]

The role of Grizabella was originated by Elaine Paige in the West End in 1981.[13] She later reprised the role for the 1998 film version. Betty Buckley originated the role in the 1982 Broadway production, earning the 1983 Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical for her performance.[14] In 2015, pop singer Nicole Scherzinger was nominated for a Laurence Olivier Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance as Grizabella in the West End revival.[15] In the 2016 Broadway revival, Mamie Parris starred as Grizabella after replacing Leona Lewis in October.[16]

Notable performers who have played the role of Grizabella include:

West End[edit]

Broadway[edit]

Film[edit]

Others[edit]

In popular culture[edit]

Madame Tussauds New York features a wax figure of Grizabella that sings "Memory".[55]

References[edit]

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  2. ^ "The Story of Cats". Cats the musical (official website). Archived from the original on 30 March 2019. Retrieved 30 March 2019.
  3. ^ Sternfeld 2006, p. 129, 159–161, 363–365
  4. ^ Sternfeld 2006, p. 125, 157, 163
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  6. ^ "Cats". Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. Archived from the original on 30 March 2019. Retrieved 30 March 2019.
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  8. ^ Eliot et al. 1983, p. 9–10
  9. ^ Lloyd Webber 2018, p. 315–317
  10. ^ Siropoulos 2008, p. 181
  11. ^ Sternfeld 2006, p. 367
  12. ^ T. S. Eliot, "Rhapsody on a Windy Night", Academy of American Poets. Accessed Aug. 18, 2017.
  13. ^ "Original London Cast List". Really Useful Group. Archived from the original on 15 August 2008. Retrieved 30 March 2019.
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  18. ^ a b Beaumont-Thomas, Ben (5 January 2015). "Cats curls up for longer stay in West End – with Kerry Ellis joining cast". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 26 March 2019. Retrieved 26 March 2019.
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  31. ^ a b Edwards, Matt (17 January 2016). "CATS news: Delia Hannah confirmed to play Grizabella in Adelaide & Perth". AussieTheatre. Archived from the original on 25 March 2019. Retrieved 25 March 2019.
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  35. ^ a b "캣츠 – 제주 Musical CATS (2012/04/20 ~ 2012/04/22)" (in Korean). 플레이 DB. Retrieved 19 April 2019.
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  40. ^ Pelogia, Gustavo (25 March 2010). ""Pensei muito se eu realmente daria conta", diz Paula Lima sobre 'Cats'" ["I thought a lot if I really would," says Paula Lima about 'Cats'] (in Portuguese). Terra (Brazil). Archived from the original on 25 March 2019. Retrieved 25 March 2019.
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  45. ^ a b "Landeta asegura que elenco de Cats supera al de 1991" [Landeta ensures that cast of Cats exceeds 1991]. Vanguardia MX (in Spanish). 6 May 2013. Archived from the original on 25 March 2019. Retrieved 25 March 2019.
  46. ^ "Yuri dará vida a Grizabella en el musical Cats" [Yuri will play Grizabella in the musical Cats]. El Sol De Mexico (in Spanish). 22 August 2018. Archived from the original on 25 March 2019. Retrieved 25 March 2019.
  47. ^ http://www.aftonbladet.se/nojesbladet/article10391880.ab
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  50. ^ "Cast lists: Beijing, 2004". Really Useful Group. Archived from the original on 13 April 2010. Retrieved 26 March 2019.
  51. ^ "Cast Lists: UK/Europe tour, 2013". catsthemusical.com (official website). Archived from the original on 25 May 2013. Retrieved 9 April 2019.
  52. ^ "Watch Taylor Dayne Glam It Up as Grizabella in Cats | Broadway Buzz". Broadway.com. 22 August 2013. Retrieved 5 May 2015.
  53. ^ Hill, Patrick (21 March 2015). "Jane McDonald lands Nicole Scherzinger's sexy Cats role after wowing composer Andrew Lloyd Webber - 3am & Mirror Online". Mirror.co.uk. Retrieved 5 May 2015.
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  55. ^ "Broadway fans will love this new immersive Madame Tussauds exhibit featuring 'Cats,' 'Phantom,' 'Big' and more". USA Today. 5 June 2019. Retrieved 5 July 2019.

Print sources[edit]

External links[edit]