Beth Leavel is existing in “kind of a dream state,” as she describes it. And understandably so. The cat was finally out of the bag.
Beth Leavel at the The 73rd Annual Tony Awards Meet The Nominees Press Day
Make that a Prada bag.
Last week it was announced that the highly anticipated The Devil Wears Prada musical had their Miranda Priestly. Leavel, a Tony-winning triple threat, fresh from her dazzling portrayal of Dee Dee Allen in The Prom, is coming back to Broadway for her 14th show. And she is playing hotshot editor-in-chief of Runway magazine.
The Devil Wears Prada has a dream creative team including music by Sir Elton John, lyrics by Shaina Taub, book by Paul Rudnick with Anna D. Shapiro directing. Taylor Iman Jones will play Priestly’s assistant Andy Sachs. Before coming to Broadway in 2021, the musical will debut at Chicago’s CIBC Theatre in July 2021.
48 hours after the news was announced Leavel was at Feinstein’s/54 Below belting her heart out at during a special preview of her upcoming solo show that she will be performing there from January 14 to January 20th. Also at the preview were singing sensations Norm Lewis, Christine Pedi, Seth Sikes who also all have upcoming standout shows at Feinstein’s/54 Below.
(From left) Seth Sikes, Beth Leavel, Christine Pedi and Norm Lewis each have upcoming shows at … [+]
At her show Leavel will performing songs from her 13 Broadway musicals.”I always want to sing the numbers that people want to hear, like stuff from The Prom and The Drowsy Chaperone. But then I’ve also got some surprises,” she says. Leavel is also trying her best to get permission to sing a song from The Devil Wears Prada. Wouldn’t that be cool?,” she says.
Leavel knew for about a month that she was cast as Priestly but was not allowed to say anything. So until it was officially announced it didn’t feel like a reality for her. “Then when the news was out, it was like my wedding or the night of the Tony awards,” says Leavel. “I was so overwhelmed, it just made me float.”
In fact she was so overcome she got in her car and drove across the river just so she could take some time for herself. “I drove to a mall in New Jersey and walked around, just processing. I felt such gratitude and joy,” shares Leavel. “I don’t know a lot of people in the show. So I’m going to discover a whole new chosen family. Let’s go. I’m ready!”
Jeryl Brunner: Can you bring us to when you first learned about the role?
Beth Leavel: I knew the potential was happening after The Prom. I had a couple of meetings and then I waited and waited, hearing rumors and speculations. Then I found out about four weeks ago that it was definitely going to happen. I just had to sit on it.
Brunner: Have you met Sir Elton John yet?
Leavel: I have not. I met the director, Anna D. Shapiro, who is amazing. Sir Elton is on a tour. He’s a little busy. I can’t wait to say, ‘Oh Elton can you plunk out that C for me?’ Who do I think I am? It’s going to be an adventure. The film is one of my favorite movies ever. Apparently, I’m not alone. It resonates with so many people. And it’s a little surreal to me that I’m going to be singing his music. And there’s all these fabulous talented artists. Shaina Taub and Anna D. Shapiro.
Brunner: What do you love about Miranda Priestly?
Leavel: Just that she exists and I get to embody her and all that energy. I have songs that they are writing for her to express that energy. It’s kind of fun to be the bad guy who’s maybe not really a bad guy. It’s going to be a challenge to have people fall in love with her but I cannot wait.
Brunner: Do you know anything yet about your wardrobe and hair?
Leavel: Can you imagine what they’re going to do? I’m anxious to hear what they’re thinking about my hair. Do they do the iconic silver? It’s all new to me. I’m talking like an excited school child.
Brunner: Have you connected with Meryl Streep? (Meryl Streep, who famously played Mirada Priestly on screen, is starring as Dee Dee Allen in Ryan Murphy’s adaptation of The Prom for Netflix. Leavel originated that role on Broadway.)
Leavel: It’s fascinating that she is sharing Dee Dee. For one thing, Meryl Streep is my idol and I see everything she is in. She’s such an amazing artist and powerful woman. I look up to her. So if I’m going to share Dee Dee with someone, it’s a privilege to share Dee Dee with her. I hope she’s proud of my Miranda. And I hope sometime, in this crazy universe, we can have a coffee. I’ll buy.
Brunner: What do you miss most about doing The Prom?
Leavel: It is such an important story. It literally changed lives. Imagine doing that with a musical comedy? So I’m sorry that it can’t change lives on Broadway right now. But there is going to be a movie and a tour. The power and the impact of The Prom will be felt for years to come in ways that we can’t even really understand right now.
Brunner: Why do you like doing your show at Feinstein’s/54 Below?
Leavel: It’s not like any space I’ve ever played before. It’s so intimate. I feel the DNA history everywhere in the wood of the place. I have performed there many times, but this is only my second solo show and the first time I’ve actually done it for a week. Also, performing there is so joyous . I think of the misbehaving that audience and I can do together. You have permission here to do the things you would love to do in a Broadway show, but can’t. When Beth Leavel is here during that week, it’s just play. And I love to open up the room to questions. Sometimes that leads into a song we haven’t planned or a great story. I’ve been in this business long enough I have so many stories and love to share them.