Nicole Scherzinger said it will be ‘cathartic’ to play downfallen moggy Grizabella in the musical Cats — because she knows what it’s like to be ‘broken inside’.
The singer is to play Grizabella the Glamour Cat — her theatrical debut — in the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical at the London Palladium from December 6.
The show has already taken £5 million in advance ticket sales at the box office.
‘It’s the part I was born to do,’ Nicole told me yesterday. ‘It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity.’
Though the show’s based on T. S. Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book Of Practical Cats, the Grizabella character was not included in the tome because Eliot believed her story would be upsetting for children.
Nicole agreed. ‘There are so many layers to her.. no wonder Eliot warned it was too sad for children. Grizabella’s broken, and I know what that feels like, to be broken not only on the inside from personal relationships, but in many ways.
‘She’s been shunned and mistreated by society, and her people. I understand feeling like an outcast, feeling like an outsider, feeling like I don’t fit in and wanting to be accepted.
The former X Factor judge noted how people often ‘just see the glamour’ when they look at her, and rarely delve deeper, to what lies beneath.
‘Things aren’t always what they seem. I think even when Grizabella was at her most glamorous, she had a darker side . . . and that’s what led her astray and down the wrong path.’
She shook her head sadly. ‘Lord knows what happened to her.’ Nicole explores similar themes on her new album Big Fat Lie. ‘It’s more stripped back and honest than I’ve ever been,’ she said of the record, released this week. ‘We all have insecurities and demons. I’m just a work in progress.’
She is clearly digging deep into Grizabella’s psyche for the role. Cats director Trevor Nunn, who wrote the lyrics for the show’s standard Memory, has given her a tutorial on Eliot’s Jellicle Cats.
She has also spoken to Nunn and the Cats choreographer, the great Gillian Lynne, about ‘how I want to do some things that will make the story more clear’.
‘I’m just excited by telling the story even deeper, through dance and movement.’
Award-winning designer John Napier has created a bespoke Grizabella costume that’s subtly different from the ones worn by the 75 actresses who’ve played the part before (including Elaine Page, the original Glamour Cat).
But Nicole is leaving Memory to the rehearsals. She confided that Lloyd Webber hasn’t heard her sing it live (although she did record a sample of it with Il Divo).
‘It’s sacred. I haven’t touched the song because I’m waiting for rehearsals. Andrew and I have worked together a number of times. He has faith in me.’
She will be doing all eight performances a week for the two-month run, though by prior arrangement she’s booked off four dates, including New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.
‘Eight a week is no bother,’ she said, when I wondered aloud if she would do the lot. ‘I’m a workhorse! My family are workers, and I grew up working hard.
‘If I can survive the music industry, travelling to a new country and going straight on stage, I can do this.’
One thing’s for sure: she can put over a song. When she sang Don’t Cry For Me Argentina on TV recently, she was hypnotic. I commented that such moments don’t just happen; for someone to lose themselves in a song requires a lot of work.
She’s definitely a perfectionist. ‘My mom said that if I ever drew outside of the lines, and my drawings weren’t perfect, I’d crumple up the paper and start again.’
I said that there’s a symmetry in her having been in the Pussycat Dolls and now in Cats. Does she keep cats? ‘I’m allergic to cats! Like, I’m really allergic to cats.
‘I like dogs,’ she added, which is just as well: she and boyfriend Lewis Hamilton keep two English