When Laurie Beechman sang Grizabella at the June 1997 gala celebrating Cats becoming the longest-running Broadway show, audiences hoped this meant her eight-year battle with cancer was behind her. Alas, that wasn't the case. Beechman died Mar. 8, at age 43.
According to Beechman's spokesperson, she is to be buried Mar. 11 in Philadelphia. A public memorial service in New York has not yet been scheduled.
Beechman didn't let cancer stop her performing -- or her generosity. Back in March 1997, she performed a special benefit concert at Philadelphia's Walnut Street Theatre to help an actor-friend also suffering from the disease.
The singer-actress, who appeared in Cats and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 1989. Even so, she appeared with the national touring company of Les Miserables and performed at the 1997 Presidential Inauguration. She sang at Margaret Thatcher's birthday party and released several solo CDs, including "Listen to My Heart" and "The Andrew Lloyd Webber Album."
A Tony nominee as the Narrator of 1982's Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Beechman appeared at the Walnut in 1990's comedy revival, The Show-Off.