As the temporary shutdown of Broadway continues, Playbill is reaching out to artists to see how they are physically and creatively responding to a changed world.
During Pride Month, the series continues with LGBTQIA+ artist Beth Malone, who received a 2015 Tony nomination for playing Alison in the Tony-winning musical Fun Home. She also played the Angel in the Tony-winning revival of Angels in America; her New York theatre credits also include Molly in The Unsinkable Molly Brown (Outer Critic Circle Honoree, Drama Desk and Lucille Lortel Award nominations), Ring of Fire, The Marvelous Wonderettes, and Bingo!. On screen, the actor has been seen in The Comedian, Hick, Brittany Runs a Marathon, God Committee, Braindead, The Baker and the Beauty, Gaslit, All Rise, Bluff City Law, Bull, The Good Wife, Reno 911, Judging Amy, Laying Low, What's On?, and One Minute Soaps.
Malone will make her Feinstein’s/54 Below solo debut in a new concert celebrating Pride Month June 21 at 7 PM ET. Click here for ticket information.
What is your typical day like now?
My days are pretty varied depending on work, but I have a standing Zoom meeting on Wednesdays, and besides my wife and dogs, it has been my biggest constant in the past year.
What book/TV show/podcast/film should everyone take the time to consume during this period?
I'm listening to Bill Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything right now, and it is absolutely life-changing. It's literally a brief history of pretty much everything having to do with the natural history of the known universe and earth with all of its varied weirdness. My favorite quote, "The universe is queerer than we suppose, or... queerer than we can suppose." Cheers to that! The book is also hilarious, and would make a great musical.
During this time of reflection and re-education regarding BIPOC artists and artistry, particularly in the theatre, what do you want people (those in power, fellow actors, audiences) to be aware of? What do you want them to consider further?
We are currently celebrating a BIPOC artist renaissance. This means BIPOC members of our creative family will now make the long overdue journey to Down Center Stage. Given the opportunity, those of us who identify otherwise have the amazing privilege of helping to amplify these voices and these stories. I only hope it's not some politically correct moment in theatre history, but that this moment of history forever changes theatre. I know what it's like to sit in a Broadway theatre and not see yourself anywhere on stage. It sucks. Makes you feel disenfranchised, and sort of hopeless. Especially when you see an entire audience eating something up so heartily, and you're nowhere to be found. Like they all agree, you could never be the hero. That's not what theatre is for. That's actually the opposite of what it should do in my opinion, so I am so here for the BIPOC renaissance. Sign me up. I'll be in every audience if I'm not backstage sweeping the floor and making sure the theatre actually recycles the recycling.
What advice would you give to someone who may be struggling with the isolation and/or the current unrest?
To those who may be struggling during this time of isolation and stillness, I hope you reach out to someone. Mental health is just like any other kind of health, you must maintain it for you to feel your best. If you're struggling, tell someone. Fuck shame. Shame is my least favorite. It can be scary, but don't keep to yourself. Let someone in, and let them lead you out of it. There's actually strength in that.
How, if at all, are you keeping your creative juices flowing? Are you working on any theatrical projects during this time?
During quarantine I began Zoom workshops of a brilliant new show, Jeanette, which will continue to develop and hopefully make it into New York in the next season or two. I also started writing a long-procrastinated musical, Starstruck. It's a queer adaptation of Cyrano, and Emily Saliers of the Indigo Girls is writing music and lyrics. I can't really believe it sometimes but, yeah, that's happening.
How do you feel about returning to live performance?
As for live performance—I never really left. I've been doing socially distanced outdoor concerts pretty regularly throughout the pandemic, but they've been less than awesome. It's just part of the joy of performing to get to be close to each other, to share a space with people, or even, God forbid, to sing into the same mic! So concerts have felt sort of sterile and silent. People seem afraid to make noise lest they project particles. At any rate, my band and I are now fully vaxed and ready to share particles!!
Are there any particular ways you celebrate Pride Month each year? How will you celebrate this year?
During Pride month I’m usually busy doing exactly this—going about being visible, singing songs in my gay way, and generally celebrating queerness like rainbow mayonnaise.