Saturday, July 31, 2010

Lea Salonga: Grizabella in Broadway musical

Lea Salonga: Grizabella in Broadway musical. Aside from being a brand ambassador of Avon's Anew, the world-famous Tony Award-winner Lea Salonga appears as the feline version of the woman mentioned in T.S. Eliot's poem "Rhapsody on a Windy Night" in the upcoming and much-awaited Broadway musical, Cats.

She plays the role of Grizabella, the glamour cat who left the tribe to experience the outside world and who eventually wants to come back.

The action takes place in a huge junkyard where the Jellicle cats have gathered for the annual Jellicle Ball. The main event of the Ball is the selection of the cat that will be reborn. The Jellicle cats have an opportunity to compete for that honor. Old Deuteronomy, the tribe's elder, ends up choosing Grizabella, an old, former beauty kitten who has lost the favor of her peers.

As Grizabella, (formerly played by Elaine Paige and Betty Buckley) Lea gets to sing "Memory," one of musical theatre's most popular songs. Grizabella is, at the time of her appearance, a very old cat, withered by her age to the point that she no longer resembles the proud, carefree, flamboyant dancer of her youth. Her fellow Jellicles are quite repulsed by Grizabella's disheveled condition, and taunt her.

Possibly because of this, it is Grizabella whom Old Deuteronomy consigns to the Heaviside Layer to be reborn. During her change, Grizabella sings the song "Memory", which has been thought of by audiences as a very emotionally touching, profound, and even mysterious composition. It has been recorded by over 150 different artists, including Barry Manilow, Michael Crawford, and Barbra Streisand.

"I'll be playing Grizabella (the non-dancer part). As for what attracts me to her, besides the big song? Grizabella is THE cat that shone in the spotlight once upon a time, and doesn't anymore. She's scraggy, dirty, ugly, and relives the Glory Days in her mind. It'll be interesting to play someone that once shone, and no longer does," noted Lea.

Far from the grizzly Grizabella that she portrays in Cats, Lea, in reality, is a few months shy of turning 40. Most women dread turning 40, but not Lea.

"I'm excited! I really look forward to turning 40," Lea Salonga-Chien. "My late (and) early 20s, I was not happy. I was awkward. It was an awkward age for me. Yes, I had a Tony Award but it was a very weird stage of my life because I had not come into myself as a complete human being. I was like, who am I really? And I didn't really figure it out until my mid 20s and early 30s. Now I am just really enjoying the age that I'm in. I really would not like to go back there."