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Broadway Q&A: Beth Leavel of ‘It’s Not About Me’ and ‘The Devil Wears Prada’

Category Broadway

|by Jeryl Brunner |


“I can't wait to say, ‘Oh, Elton, can you plunk out that C for me?’”

The Devil Wears Prada Musical has found its Miranda Priestly. On Dec. 3, Twitter blew up with the news. Tony winner Beth Leavel, who recently starred in Dee Dee Allen in The Prom on Broadway, will play the editor-in-chief of Runway magazine, the role that Meryl Streep made famous in the film. In July 2021 the musical will have its start at Chicago’s CIBC Theatre before coming to Broadway. The creative team features music by Sir Elton John, lyrics by Shaina Taub and book by Paul Rudnick, with Anna D. Shapiro directing. Taylor Iman Jones, (Head Over Heels, Groundhog Day), stars as Priestly’s assistant Andy Sachs. Before coming to Broadway in 2021, the musical will debut at Chicago’s CIBC Theatre in July 2021. A Tony-winning veteran of 13 Broadway shows, Leavel’s credits include Bandstand, Elf, Young Frankenstein, The Drowsy Chaperone and 42nd Street. From Jan. 14 to Jan. 20, Leavel will perform a new solo show, It’s Not About Me, at Feinstein’s/54 Below. 

Beth Leavel performs at Feinstein’s/54 Below (Photo: BFV Marketing)

Beth Leavel performs at Feinstein’s/54 Below (Photo: BFV Marketing)

What can people expect from your show, It’s Not About You at Feinstein’s/54 Below?
Beth Leavel:
I always want to sing numbers that people want to hear, like stuff from The Prom and The Drowsy Chaperone. But I also have some surprises. I'm trying my best to see if I can debut a song from The Devil Wears Prada. We’ll see what Sir Elton John says. But wouldn't that be cool?

Why do you like doing your show at Feinstein’s/54 Below?
BL: It’s not like any space I've ever played before. It's so intimate. 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. 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.

What can you tell us about being in The Devil Wears Prada and playing Miranda Priestly?
BL: I’m still kind of in a dream state about it. I've known for a while, but wasn't allowed to say anything. When that announcement came out, it was like my wedding or the night of the Tony awards. I was so overwhelmed. It just made me float. I got in my car and I went to the mall in New Jersey and just walked around. I'm not kidding. I was just processing it, and feeling so such gratitude and joy. I don’t know a lot of the people in this show. So I'm going to discover a whole new chosen family. I can't wait.

Have you met Sir Elton John yet?
BL: 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?” 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 involved like Shaina Taub and Anna D. Shapiro.

What do you love about Miranda Priestly?
BL: 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.

Have you connected with Meryl Streep? (Meryl Streep, who famously played Miranda 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.)
BL: 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.

What do you miss most about doing The Prom?
BL: 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.

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