Interview with The Prom star Beth Leavel

Beth Leavel

The most critically acclaimed musical of the Broadway season so far is, without a doubt, the uplifting Broadway premiere of The Prom, even earning a "New York Times Critics' Pick" status. The musical comedy is also a love letter to the New York theatre scene, in a way, and in return, the Broadway community has showed nothing but love for this exuberant production. It is the perfect mix of a young, dynamic group of youngsters who portray the high school students of Edgewater, Indiana, and Broadway stalwarts, who play the narcisstic (but magnetic)... well, Broadway stalwarts.

The fabulously clichéd group of thesps - that includes Tony Award nominee Brooks Ashmanskas (as Barry Glickman), two-time Tony Award nominee Christopher Sieber (as Trent Oliver), Angie Schworer (as Angie), and Josh Lamon (as Sheldon Saperstein) - boasts a ruling monarch of Broadway royalty in Tony Award winner Beth Leavel's Dee Dee Allen.

Having made her Broadway debut in the original Broadway production of 42nd Street in the 1980s, Ms. Leavel has gone on to forge a 24-karat Broadway career, which has included a Tony Award-winning performance as the titular character in The Drowsy Chaperone, a Tony-nominated performance as Florence Greenberg in Baby It's You, as well as celebrated turns in BandstandElfYoung FrankensteinMamma Mia!Show Boat, and more.

We recently had the opportunity to get Ms. Leavel's thoughts on this coming-of-age comedy, Broadway reviews, the similarities and/or differences between herself and her character and her 11 o'clock number "The Lady's Improving"... and this lady seems to improve with every Broadway credits she adds to her impressive résumé...

Beth Leavel at the Opening Night of The Prom
(Photo by Tom Millward)

After Eleanor!: The Eleanor Roosevelt Story was so viciously dissected by The New York Times in the opening scene, it must have been quite special to read the glowing reviews for The Prom? Or do you never read reviews in real life?

Talk about art imitating life! Beginning a show on an “opening night” of Eleanor! and all of our characters waiting for reviews! While we are all waiting for the reviews for The Prom on our opening night! Fortunately we made out better than Eleanor! I actually don’t read reviews. However, they are plastered everywhere! So I’m delighted with what I have seen.

What would you say are the main differences and similarities between Tony Award winner Dee Dee Allen and Tony Award winner Beth Leavel?

Dee Dee Allen carries her Tony Awards with her at all times. Beth Leavel does not. Beth is also more of a team player than Dee Dee. But we both really love what we do and we both are madly in love with fabulous men!

I especially adored all the in-jokes for all us theatre nerds watching The Prom. What are some of your favorites in the musical?

Aren’t they hilarious?! My favorite is the reference to Carrie and the non-equity tour of Godspell! With an honorable mention to the Drama Desk Award!

Beth Leavel with Josh Lamon, Brooks Ashmanskas, Angie Schworer and the Company of The Prom
(Photo by Deen Van Meer)

You really bring the house down with your 11 o’clock number “The Lady’s Improving”! Can you tell us a bit about the song and its function in the narrative?

Thank you! "The Lady’s Improving” is Dee Dee’s last attempt to prove she is not a lost cause and worthy of Tom Hawkin’s affection. A number that made her a Broadway Star 20 years ago that she must now pull out all the stops, sing it again, and hopefully melt this man’s heart.

What was your own Prom like? Were there any same-sex couples to be seen?

My own Prom was a non-event really. Went with a friend of mine because we both loved to dance! It was 1973... No same sex couples to be seen.

What would you say is the main message of The Prom?

The main message of The Prom (if there is just one?) is that there is never a bad time to listen, love, discover and grow. Especially when it is all wrapped up in a fabulous, hilarious and extraordinary new original musical!

Beth Leavel and the Cast of The Prom
(Photo by Deen Van Meer)

The Prom Tickets are available now for performances through to October 20, 2019.

(Headshot courtesy of Lisa Goldberg Public Relations)