Entertainment Hive 2020

Delia Hannah creates new Cats memories in Adelaide

By Honey B

There are times when life truly imitates art and as Delia Hannah slinks back into the role of Grizabella in Cats a down-and-out feline has snuck into her life. The musical theatre legend, who takes over the coveted role from pop star Delta Goodrem for the Adelaide and Perth seasons, has bonded with a stray cat at her mum's house. "I have a dog but now I am at home with my mum she has had this cat visiting her who is quite standoffish,'' Hannah explains. "I have started calling her Grizabella because she is not in a great way and she would have been gorgeous but now she's not in good condition. "She has been neglected and she's not very well - she's a total Grizabella. "We are taking her to the vet today and we will see how it goes. I think mum might be adopting her.'' Hannah has played the role of Grizabella many times and her debut performance as the aloof unloved cat was in Adelaide in 1984. The beautifully-spoken musical theatre superstar says she is looking forward to seeing how the role has evolved. "This Grizabella might be a little different to the one I have played before. "They (the original casting team of director Trevor Nunn, associate director Gillian Lynne and designer John Napier) cast Nicole Scherzinger (The Pussycat Dolls) in London and Delta Goodrem was cast here and these two performers bring a different energy to the show. "There is no point casting someone and then telling them to do something different to who they are - especially when they are casting pop stars and that's what people want and what they come to see.'' Now Hannah is looking forward to bringing a little bit more of herself to the grand old cat. "I can only be who I am, you have to bring a truth to your role and my speciality is going to that painful place Grizabella is in. "She has lived a life, but maybe she won't be quite so broken or at the end of herself - which is where I always thought she was. "There's so much weight there and her redemption doesn't happen until the end of the show and she gets accepted and then she is gone. "I get all teary talking about it. It's deeply spiritual and I think that is the most important part of the show. "If you gloss over that you have lost the meaning of the show.'' While Hannah has made her living famously playing the faded glamour cat, she's actually a bit of a dog person. "The first time I came to Adelaide I had a little schnauzer dog and I was playing Grizabella and my husband was playing Munkustrap. "We'd hired a cottage to stay in but it was too hot in Adelaide to leave him at home on our double show days. "The Adelaide Festival Centre gave us special permission to bring the dog in and it was fantastic - the cast loved him. "We have this fantastic family portrait of the three of us with my partner as Munkustrap, me as Grizabella and my little dog who is the same colour as us. "So it's this portrait of two cats and a dog. It's fabulous!'' Cats, Adelaide Festival Centre, Adelaide Festival Theatre, Friday, 18 March, to Sunday, 10 April. Bookings: BASS 131 246
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