Tony Award winner Beth Leavel, ’77, returned to Meredith’s campus on September 30, 2011, to provide an audition workshop for music and theatre students.
Leavel is an accomplished Broadway actress and singer who decided during her senior year at Meredith to pursue an acting career. While earning a degree in sociology, she performed in Meredith productions “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie,” “Come Blow Your Horn,” “Blithe Spirit,” “The Bald Soprano” and “Cabaret.” Her most recent Tony nomination was in 2011 in the Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical for her work in “Baby It’s You!” In 2006, Leavel won a Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical for her performance in “The Drowsy Chaperone.”
Student actors and singers performed monologues or songs, and Leavel gave them constructive tips for improvement. One piece of advice was to know the character’s motivation in the song, and to find something personal to bring to the performance.
“You need to know why that character had to sing that song,” Leavel said. “If you’re making a gesture and it isn’t part of the character, it takes away from your talent.”
Participant Teia Coley was “in awe” of getting to perform for Leavel. “Having her tell me I did a good job was the best feeling in the world,” Coley said. “It was truly an honor.” Leavel also took questions from students and talked about her own audition experiences. “The audition is not only about the 90 seconds you have on stage with the material,” Leavel said. “They are looking at you from the second you walk on that stage, the way you look, your confidence, that’s all part of the audition.”
A student asked Leavel how to deal with the uncertainty of an acting career. “There is nothing else I need or want to do in my life – I want to act,” Leavel said. “You have to find that passion for what you are going to do with your life.”
During the workshop, Leavel and fellow alumna Professor of Theatre Catherine Rodgers recalled how they met during an audition for a Meredith production of “Winnie the Pooh” when Leavel was a freshman and Rodgers was a sophomore. Rodgers was cast as Winnie the Pooh and Leavel played Rabbit. I was so close to getting the lead,” Leavel said with a smile.
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