Despite the fact it's Broadway's longest-running show, Cats has never been at a loss for a great Grizabella; from the Tony-winning original, Betty Buckley, to the new cat on the block, Linda Balgord, the pedigree has remained on the same high plane. "There's a very good feeling at the theatre," Linda reports. "It's very exciting to me. I've always wanted to play this part. I think it's a great character -- and getting to sing that song ["Memory"] is a thrill for any belter, certainly."
It helped getting into Grizabella to have just played Norma Desmond -- both glamour pusses who've passed their prime. "Their falls are different," she allows, "but there is that wanting to be accepted again -- Norma by the film world, Grizabella by her tribe."
Cats is her fourth Andrew Lloyd Webber show. Prior to a year's tour in Sunset Boulevard, she went out in Aspects of Love -- this, just after moving to N.Y. from Chicago, where she'd plucked such plum parts as the lead in Evita and Jule Styne's Funny Girl. Stephen Sondheim's Passion was her first Broadway job, covering for Tony-winning Donna Murphy. "I got to go on about 18 times," she says, trying to muster a but-who's-counting matter-of-factness.
"To have been able to play so many of these great ladies has been wonderful," she readily admits, but she knows there's nothing like originating a role. To that end, the fix is in -- or, rather, she's in The Fix, Cameron Mackintosh's next opus, which Eric D. Schaeffer launched at Washington's Signature Theatre. Her performance of Violet Chandler was cheered, and they want her back for seconds if and when it gears up for Broadway.