Review by Melissa Griegel . . .
The incomparable Beth Leavel (The Prom, The Drowsy Chaperone) jubilantly returned to the stage at Feinstein’s/54 Below on July 22nd and July 23rd. She bounced up on the stage talking about how much she “missed it all” during the last sixteen and half months and joked “I don’t know if I can sing anymore!” Leavel said that the time away from performing felt like 27 years and wasn’t sure if she would make it through the night in heels after wearing slippers and crocs for a year and half.
There is no doubt that Leavel can still sing. She belted out “Not About Me” from The Prom to a rousing round of applause. Enthusiastic fans yelled out “I love you, Beth!” and other accolades. The Feinstein’s guest that came the furthest was a woman from Los Angeles who was gifted a one-of-a-kind drawing of all of The Drowsy Chaperone costumes from Leavel. Former Prom castmates Josh Lamon and Joomin Hwang attended the show to cheer Leavel on.
Leavel regaled the audience with personal stories and sang audience favorites such as “Some People” from Gypsy, “As We Stumble Along” from The Drowsy Chaperone. “Not While I’m Around” from Sweeny Todd, “Children Will Listen” from Into the Woods, and “I’ll Be Here” from Ordinary Days, the latter of which she dedicated to her son TJ and to her fiancé Adam Heller. She and Heller were supposed to get married during the pandemic, but those plans got put on hold.
She and longtime collaborator Phil Reno are currently working on Leavel’s first album. Reno was the Music Director and pianist for the show, along with Perry Cavary on bass and Michael Kuennen on drums. Leavel and Reno have a very comfortable rapport and paused in the middle of the show for audience members to call out suggestions for her new album. Leavel then proceeded to sing a few lines of those songs, infused with humor and stories about other shows she has been in.
Leavel is currently in workshop for the musical adaption of The Devil Wears Prada. She ended the show talking about how honored she was to be a “Lesbian protector” in The Prom. “It was one of the greatest privileges of my life to be able to change hearts and minds and shed light on encompassing all people to care for one another,” Leavel said. On that night, she ended the evening appropriately with a song from The Prom, “The Lady’s Improving.” Leavel’s hardcore fans stood and applauded and are looking forward to seeing her back up on a Broadway theater stage.
Photos by Melissa Griegel Photography www.griegelphoto.zenfolio.com