The former Pussycat Doll is currently staring as Grizabella in ‘Cats’ at the London Palladium.
She’s been a Pussycat Doll, but now Nicole Scherzinger is a fully fledged cat, having made her West End debut in the revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s classic musical. In the revival, Scherzinger stars as Grizabella, the washed up former glamour cat. But how have the critics found the former 'X-Factor' judge in her most challenging role yet?
Nicole Scherzinger has made her West End debut in Cats
The first thing to get over is Scherzinger’s appearance. Although Grizabella is meant to be somewhat repulsive, Scherzinger hasn’t sacrificed much of her Pussycat Doll glamour. As Paul Taylor writes in The Independent, “It has to be said that Scherzinger doesn't make many concessions to appearing past-it.”
“She's a drop-dead stunning presence with her flawless face, her thigh-length stiletto-heeled boots, long-back gloves and a chic grey tattered coat that wouldn't look out of place on a cat-walk – all of which feels a bit at odds with the plaintive beseeching gestures of this now despised loner.”
However the strength of Scherzinger’s performance seems to be enough to convince the critics who may have initially been ready to dismiss her. “Even in her ragged outfit she’s never going to convince us that she’s an old, dishevelled pariah — and her high-heeled boots are one of several concessions to Scherzinger’s real-life image.” Henry Hitchings writes in The Evening Standard.
“Yet she captures the mournfulness of a character confronting her faded youth. When she sings Memory — the song made famous by Elaine Paige — her yearning and passion are overwhelming.”
Indeed it seems where Scherzinger’s performance really comes to life is during her second rendition of ‘Memory’. “She also twice gets to sing the Puccini-esque Memory and, even though Nicole Scherzinger tends to substitute lung-power for plaintiveness, she exudes the right air of solitude and had the audience cheering her high notes,” writes Michael Billington in The Guardian.
“Miss Scherzinger nailed it,” writes The Daily Mail’s Quentin Letts. “Her low voice almost gasping with emotion, harmonising briefly with another singer before seizing back her solo and clinching it with lusty, self-discovering power.”
However, the memory of Scherzinger’s time on ‘X-Factor’ is never quite forgotten. "There's also arguably his most famous song 'Memory', punched to the rafters by pop singer Nicole Scherzinger in a soulful rendition that gets cheers and applause mid-way through, but threatens to turn Cats into The X Factor,” writes The Stage’s Mark Shenton.
Scherzinger certainly had big shoes to fill, playing the part which was first made famous by Elaine Page. But luckily for her it seems she nailed it, as Whats On Stage’s Michael Coveney pays the singer the ultimate compliment writing, “she is as good a Grizabella as I've seen, and I've seen Elaine Paige and Betty Buckley for starters”.
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