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If you've been in extreme circumstances- it doesn't have to be cancer, it can be the death of a spouse, AIDS, anything- and you've been lucky enough to survive, it's incumbent on you to live the best possible life. What's the point otherwise?

-Laurie Beechman, as quoted in The Washington Post, 1996

excerpt from

Laurie Beechman gets back into her Grizabella getup this month and will do the role on Broadway beyond Labor Day. She first pounced on the part in Novemeber 1983 when she opened the first national tour in Boston. Six months later she bowed on Broadway and stayed there through 1988. The house electrician during her tenure, Joe Newman, looked it up and discovered that she was the longest-running continuous principal-player to work the Winter Garden, surpassing Al Jolson and Angela Lansbury (but, now, not Ken Prymus). "You know, I never got tired of it," she's amazed to admit. Her favorite Cats memory? "I always had Chanukah in my dressing room. I'd have the menorah, wine and bits of gelt, the prayer phonetically printed on the wall. Ethan Fine, a guitar player from the orchestra, would come up. It made quite a sight- kids in cat costumes celebrating Chanukah. For me, that's the spirit of the place."

excerpt from Patrick Pacheco's article in Newsday, as quoted on Playbill Online

Laurie Beechman: When I returned to the show in 1991, it was a personal triumph for me. I'd had cancer in 1989, another bout in 1991 and another one in 1995 and each time [the producers] Bernie Jacobs and Gerry Schoenfeld promised me they would always make sure that if I wanted to work again, they'd find something for me. I came back to the show in 1991 and 1992. Cats has been a lifeline and a family for me. It's not like I'm the Cosmic Queen or anything, but Grizabella's journey-- her being shummed or misunderstood or feared-- ends with rebirth to a new life. And to step into the shoes-- into the paws-- of this character, to be constantly re-inspired with hope and second chances, has meant a lot to me. I just feel such gratitude to be here and alive, doing this role to the best of my ability and without compromise.

In Theater's Cover Stars Reflect on Broadway's Past and Present- and Share Their Hopes for the Theater's Future (excerpt)

Laurie Beechman (Grizabella, Cats)

"I got to return to Cats in a kind of blaze of glory for the record-breaking performance, and it took me back to many, many years ago when Gillian [Lynne, choreographer] and Trevor [Nunn, director] were around and they had real rehearsals. I hadn't been on Broadway in five years, and seeing these unbelievably talented kids in the cast and realizing that the show is as wonderful as I remember made the whole experience very nostalgic and beautiful. My dreams for the future of the theater? To live to see it flourish"

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