I saw the Paige Norma in New York and thought she was spectacular. I was seated in the second or third row and thought I was going to exit the theatre with my hair slicked back like in a cartoon. I recall it being said at the time that Paige was the best "all around" Norma, considering both the acting performance and the big voice.
It's interesting to me that Paige doesn't even seem to have been considered for the role until an emergency replacement for Buckley was required. She had to have been on the creatives' short list from the beginning, right? I mean, she originated two of ALW's most famous roles and would, in every way, have been considered perfect for the part. At that point, she was probably the first phone call, since they knew from CATS that she could come in as an emergency replacement and learn it and get on stage. Of course, Norma is a bit of a different thing than Grizabella, but skills are skills. The only other name stars who probably could have done it at that point were LuPone (and fat chance of THAT happening) or Close, who was either already performing in New York or preparing for New York at the time.
I wonder if there was a reason that the creatives either didn't want her at first or she didn't want to do it. Even if ALW et al had their hearts set on LuPone to open the show, I'd have thought Paige would have gotten the replacement call before Buckley, at least for London, where she's such a big star.