When Liz Callaway leaves her current return engagement as Grizabella in Cats at Broadway's Winter Garden Theatre, taking the role for three months (starting in late June) will be Linda Balgord. Callaway came back to the part Sept. 22, 1997.
Balgord starred in the tours of Aspects of Love and Sunset Boulevard and served as Donna Murphy's understudy in Passion. Callaway starred in Roundabout Theatre's 1986 musical, Brownstone and the Hudson Guild's 1987 No Way To Treat A Lady. She also appeared in York Theatre's Marry Me A Little (1987).
June 19, 1997 Cats celebrated its 6,138th performance -- the longest of any Broadway show in history. Fireworks and laser lights marked the event, as did composer Andrew Lloyd Webber sitting at the piano and singing a tune that never made it to Broadway. Lloyd Webber also told a crowd gathered in front of the Winter Garden Theatre, "As someone who, as a child, loved musical theatre and American musical theatre . . . more than anything -- for something like this to happen to me is extraordinary."
New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani presented the creators and producers a proclamation that June 19, 1997 was Cats Day in New York.
A spokesperson from the Bill Evans office told Playbill On-Line (May 15) discussions were underway for a celebration this June 19, but no plans have yet been announced. The spokesperson also denied rumors Cats might end its run to make way for another musical in the fall. "We always get these rumors and they're always untrue," he said, affirming that the Webber musical remained "now and forever."
In other Cats news, look for the home video version of the 1981 musical -- Broadway's longest running -- to prowl to VCRs before the end of of 1998. Spokesperson Peter Brown told Playbill On-Line (Mar. 10) the footage has been shot, and negotiations are underway to release the Polygram video for Christmastime `98. (The original plan was for this spring.)
Really Useful Group spokesperson Nicole Levine confirmed (Sept. 11, 1997) that Elaine Paige, who originated the role of Grizabella in 1981, will play that shunned but ultimately redeemed cat in the video release (which will be shot on film), singing the show's pop hit, "Memory." Lloyd Webber spokesperson Peter Brown added that Ken Page, Broadway's original Old Deuteronomy would repeat his role, but other cast members -- drawn from current and previous Cats alumni -- have yet to be announced.
Paige made her Broadway debut in Lloyd Webber's Sunset Boulevard. Page appeared as The Lord in Randy Newman's Faust at La Jolla Playhouse.
Gillian Lynne, original choreographer, directs and choreographs here, with David Mallet directing the film itself. The Adelphi Theatre will be used, says Brown, "because it was dark, and we needed a theatre. Plus, Andrew owns it." The theatre has a proscenium arch stage.
Brown earlier denied reports in the New York Post (Aug. 5) that Webber was negotiating with PolyGram, which owns 30 percent of the Really Useful Company, to capture six of his musicals (including Aspects Of Love and Sunset Boulevard) on tape or film. He confirmed only the Cats filming.
In other Webber news, Brown says "Andrew is happy with the Whistle rewrites," referring to a revised version of Whistle Down The Wind, which closed in Washington DC before its scheduled Broadway mounting this past spring. The show comes to London, June 1998. "I don't think there are any new songs," added Brown.
Also, although Warner Brothers would like to begin shooting on the Phantom Of The Opera film in 1998, still no director or star has been chosen, though Antonio Banderas is a top candidate for the lead.