Interview: Keri René Fuller – Grizabella (Jellicle) Queen Of The Night

Keri René Fuller as Grizabella in the North American Tour of CATS. (Photo by Matthew Murphy 2019)
Keri René Fuller as Grizabella in the North American Tour of CATS.
(Photo by Matthew Murphy 2019)

If “Jellicle Cats are Queens of the Night” than the kitty Grizabella is their official leader. The feline that is given the song “Memory” from the hit musical CATS, is being played by Keri René Fuller. Ms. Fuller sharpens her claws as she gets ready to leap into Seattle’s Paramount Theatre. The show runs March 26-31, 2019. Get tickets and more info here.

Eric Andrews-Katz: Who were your earliest influences in becoming a performer?
Keri René Fuller: When I was dreaming of becoming a performer I never thought it would be in theatre. I always thought I’d be a vocalist. I listened to Celine Dion, Stevie Nicks and pop vocalists. In the theatre Linda Eder was a huge influence. She seems so down to earth and nice.

Andrews-Katz: You played the title role in the musical Lizzie Borden. What was it like being in an all-girl, rock, steampunk musical?
Fuller: Honestly, it was the coolest experience. I believe we were the second mounting of the show ever. It was my freshman year of college. I was so new to the school, new to starring in a musical – especially in a collegiate setting. It was overwhelming and went by so quickly! I would love, love, love to go back in time and do it all over again. I felt so nervous the first time I never got a chance to enjoy it.

Andrews-Katz: Your ‘straight-theatre’ roles all include Shakespeare. Was this opportunity or do you have an affiliation for The Bard?
Fuller: I love Shakespeare. It was my first theatrical experience, A Midsummer’s Night Dream, and I played Hermia. I fell in love with Shakespeare. It’s like speaking a different language that is potent with emotion and story. There’s humor that requires intellect to understand. I’ve been doing several other shows since, and I can’t wait to get back to Shakespeare.

Andrews-Katz: You did a video audition singing “So Much Better” from Legally, Blonde – the Musical. Was it successful? and what were some of the drawbacks of doing a video audition?
Fuller: The video was successful. I did not end up booking the role because Grizabella came through instead. But, I do know the girl that got the role and she is perfect for it. I was fortunate that I was able to submit a successful video. It’s hard because it doesn’t sound like you, there aren’t any acoustics and so you just get this raw video. Someone like me, that’s a perfectionist, ends up taking a few tries. It’s time consuming to edit but it is an incredible tool, and a huge testimony that casting directors will go to this length to find the right person for the role.

The North American Tour Company of CATS. (Photo by Matthew Murphy. 2019)
The North American Tour Company of CATS. (Photo by Matthew Murphy. 2019)

Andrews-Katz: How long does it take to get into your make up for Grizabella, the Glamour Cat?
Fuller: I typically get to the theatre two hours before show time. I can do my make-up and pin curls and get into the costume in about an hour and a half. I like the extra cushion of time so I don’t’ have to rush and I can get into my character. I can take time to stretch and warm up.

Andrews-Katz: What is the song “Memory” about?
Fuller: It’s one of those songs that for my entire life, I never imagined that I would sing or play this role; especially at my age. I have interpreted it a little differently because I am on the younger side. For me, it is looking back at a time when you were taking on the world, you have fallen away to be something bigger and something better in your own life. It’s the feeling that you’ve missed out and wasted time. You want to go back and live everything all over again.

Andrews-Katz: What is it about CATS that made it the second longest running Broadway show?
Fuller: I think that it is first of all, a brilliant show for the choreography. There are some new 2019 bents added to this production. It’s interesting to see how we go from classic to modern choreography. CATS is a spectacle to see, everyone has a good time when they see it. It is a story of redemption, especially for Grizabella.

Andrews-Katz: If you could play any role – regardless of any limitations – what would it be and why that role?
Fuller: I think I would have to say (at this point) it would be the show Bridges of Madison County. I want to play the Steven Pasquale role. I still use “Wondering” from the musical Bridges, as an audition song. I think the character is so incredibly real. What he goes through emotionally and mentally, falling in love with this woman that is not available. I would also like to play Kathy in The Last Five Years – that would be pretty good too!

CATS is the second longest-running Broadway show in American history. It plays at the Paramount Theatre March 26-31, 2019. Get tickets and more info here.

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Eric Andrews-Katz

Eric Andrews-Katz

Eric Andrews-Katz has short stories included in over 10 anthologies. He is the author of the Agent Buck 98 Series (“The Jesus Injection” and “Balls & Chain”), and the author of the Greek myth series beginning with the novel TARTARUS. He has conducted celebrity interviews with some of the biggest and best names on Broadway, Hollywood and in literature. He can be found at: http://www.EricAndrewsKatz.com

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