Beth Leavel, who won a Tony Award for her performance in the title role of the Tony-winning The Drowsy Chaperone, is back on Broadway in another critically acclaimed musical comedy, The Prom, which recently opened at the Longacre Theatre. The Broadway favorite, who possesses a true gift for comedy as well as a big, rangy Broadway belt, is cast as Dee Dee Allen, a narcissistic leading lady of the theatre who ultimately experiences what it's like not to put herself first. As she does in most of her theatrical outings, Leavel has the chance to stop the show, this time with an 11 o'clock number entitled "The Lady's Improving."
Leavel, whose Broadway credits also include Bandstand, Elf, Baby It's You!, Young Frankenstein, Mamma Mia!, 42nd Street, The Civil War, Show Boat, and Crazy for You, recently penned a list of her own most memorable nights in the theatre; her responses follow.
Closing Night of 42nd Street in Tokyo
We found the audiences to be very good listeners—very respectful. In other words, quiet. But on closing night, to show how much they loved our show, confetti fell during curtain call! Then, audience members lined up so they could give us gifts to show their appreciation as we boarded our bus. It was unbelievable. Beautiful.
First Preview of The Drowsy Chaperone in Los Angeles
We had no idea how the audience would respond to this show. I mean, who starts a show in the dark with a person saying, “I hate theatre!”??! A group of us were gathered stage left in the dark... waiting… and then we heard this wave of laughter envelope the theatre. We may have giggled and cried.
Hello, Dolly! at The Muny
This was going to be memorable no matter what!!! However, this one night we were in a rain delay during intermission. It finally stops raining so we are ready to go. I’m on the top of the stairs getting ready to descend for the “Hello, Dolly” number, and it starts to rain again. Now, it’s the Muny. There are 28 stairs. By the time I get to the bottom, it is absolutely pouring. I am wiping rain off my waiters’ faces. I see the stage manager, dance captain, and [Artistic Director] Mike Isaacson in the wings looking to see if they should call the show or whether I wanted to stop the number. No way! I feel the audience and my dancers and me needing to give the 11,500 people this iconic number. The audience stayed and were standing up in the rain and singing along. The musicians put up umbrellas so they could continue playing. We finished the number, drenched and thrilled and finding it difficult to articulate the connection that night between storytellers and audience. Muny magic at its finest.
Baby It’s You!
My dressing room was completely flooded. So what if the toilet had become Old Faithful, and the sink was spewing water everywhere? We found places backstage that were dry enough for my 25 costume changes. I was changing clothes all over the place, but the show went on!
The Prom in Atlanta