"We are roommates here at the Drury Lane, so we live together and work together, so it's been going well," said Whitney Bashor, the Bertie White to Shoshana Bean's Cee Cee Bloom in Beaches. "As we speak, we're getting pedicures!"
"Our feet are in the water right now," added Bean.
The two were calling in from Chicago, where their new show Beaches, based on the 1985 novel by Iris Rainer Dart and subsequent 1988 film that starred Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey, plays through the summer. They were in tech rehearsals — two days before their first performance — and were on separate cell phones at the nail salon.
See Brand New Shots of Shoshana Bean and Whitney Bashor in the Broadway-Bound Beaches!
"I haven't had a roommate in like — God, what is this year? '15? — probably 10 years," said Bean. "I've lived alone. We wanted to live in the apartment, but as soon as I was like, 'Let's do this,' I [thought], 'Wait a minute, what have I done?' I haven't lived with anybody in so long, but I'm so glad that we did because we're so isolated out here, and being able to go home and talk through these challenges as a united front… I think [it] has only helped to foster our friendship and help us get to know each other quicker and better, and it helps on stage." Bean has been on her own out in Los Angeles, where she focused her efforts on pop music, having released her albums "Superhero" in 2008, "O' Farrell Street" in 2013 and, most recently, "Shadows of Light."
"Yeah, I didn't see this coming at all," she said candidly, laughing. "But, what do you do when this comes across the table? I met [book writer] Iris [Rainer Dart] years ago, and when she told me that she was working on this, my little teenage heart started beating fast, and I was like, 'Oh my God, I have to play that role.' And then it was happening, and I wasn't in the city, and it was already cast. It was something that I just didn't even think about again, and then when it happened, I was like, 'Well, gee, this kind of opportunity [doesn't come around often].' If I let this pass, will I regret it?"
Bean was enlisted by the creative team to play Cee Cee Bloom, the role created by Bette Midler on film. Bashor, whose career has been on the rise since delivering an unforgettable "Another Life" in The Bridges of Madison County, was also called upon, for the role of Bertie White. Songwriter David Austin, who has crafted an entirely original score for Beaches (sans "Wind Beneath My Wings," the only song from the film that has made it into the stage adaptation), called her.
"That's the first time in my whole life that's ever happened where somebody has just called me and offered me a part. I never had to audition," said Bashor. "Bridges completely changed the trajectory of everything — of my whole career — and I will be eternally grateful for it, forever."
The two had only met briefly before heading to the Windy City, but Bashor was stoked — especially since Bean is delivering a life-changing performance of "Wind Beneath My Wings." ("No! That's definitely not the highlight of the show," Bean countered.) But, a friendship — both onstage and off — formed fast.
"I think Whitney has a hit list of things she wants to do while she's here," explained Bean.
Bashor interjected: "Yeah! Well, the architectural boat tour, I really want to do that, and I've been wanting to eat my way through all the deep-dish pizza options, just so I could know which one is the best."
"Oh, yeah, we did have a deep dish the other day!"
Deep-dish pizza aside, the two have bonded over quick changes, power ballads and the story of a friendship spanning over 30 years — from childhood to superstardom, marriages, divorces, children and disease.
"While [their friendship] is the heart of the show, the journey we both go through — personally as our characters and separately as our characters and then together in our unit — for me, is so weirdly reflective of where I'm at in my life right now anyway that there really is no work to be done for me," said Bean. "I don't know where [Cee Cee's] story ends and where mine begins. They're very parallel right now, even with my friends, with Whitney, the way that it's developing… There's no suspension of disbelief anymore. Yesterday, [when] I looked in [Whitney's] eyes in the opening number where it goes, 'God, I'm glad you're out there' — because what we're going through with our challenges, just doing tech — I literally almost cried because I'm like, 'Thank God I'm doing this with a halfway sane and lovely, lovely person.' The only work I'm doing is trying to remember where my costume changes take place and what number I'm supposed to be on. Other than that, I just show up." Bashor added, "I said to Shoshana yesterday — because we did a run-through, and I didn't know where I was supposed to exit, I didn't know where my costume changes were — I literally was like, 'Change my outfits, and get me on stage with Shoshana, and as long as I'm there with her, I will know what's going on!'"
The two said that while the stage version pays homage to the film, it is based on the 1985 novel, also written by the show's book writer. But, audiences will be satisfied with its pop-kissed score by Austin and show-stopping moments for Cee Cee.
If all else fails, Bean said, "The good news is that I was trained by Harvey Fierstein, and I have a really mouthy, body role, so if shit goes wrong, I can curse and make jokes, and everyone will not know. They'll be like, 'Oh, Cee Cee. Oh, that Cee Cee!'"
As for Broadway as Beaches' next stop, "All we know is that the creative team is really happy with Shoshana and I," said Bashor, "and that they're very excited about where the show is right now in its process of becoming something that they want to move."
Beaches continues through Aug. 16 in Chicago.
(Playbill.com features manager Michael Gioia's work appears in the news, feature and video sections of Playbill.com as well as in the pages of Playbill magazine. Follow him on Twitter at @PlaybillMichael.)