How Beth Leavel's Tony Rehearsals Costume Mishap Left Her With a Lucky Charm | Playbill

Seth Rudetsky How Beth Leavel's Tony Rehearsals Costume Mishap Left Her With a Lucky Charm

This week in the life of Seth, Jessica Vosk talks about landing her Carnegie Hall gig and Christy Altomare channels Tiger King.

Danny Burstein and Beth Leavel in The Drowsy Chaperone

Happy New Year! Note: We are only mid-January and therefore still allowed to say it. Before 2022, I did concerts in Provincetown on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day with Jessica Vosk and they were so great. Provincetown is really beautiful in the winter. But it still is odd to walk around and see signature stores and restaurants closed for the season. It’s very much this song from Grey Gardens.

Speaking of Grey Gardens, Christine Ebersole told me a little about what it was like for her when she was starring that show. She won the Tony Award and there were non-stop requests for her to appear at events. She was basically the toast of the town but, eventually, soon someone else became the theatre star-of-the-moment. Christine’s version of events is calling the year she won the Tony Award The Year Of The Pig.” Then she explains what happens once the attention fades away “You know what happens after ‘The Year Of The Prize Pig’…bacon!”

Jessica Vosk

Back to New Year’s: after Jessica and I did our concert in Provincetown, I drove home on Sunday with Juli (ye olde daughter) and her college roommate, Nadine. I say I drove home, but it was Nadine behind the wheel because I haven’t driven in around 15 years. I’m what you call a “nervous driver” and/or “someone who shouldn’t have a license.” Anyhoo, we drove back and Jessica and her boyfriend flew. Or at least, they were supposed to fly. Their flight kept getting more and more delayed. I was concerned because we were scheduled to do my Sunday night live concert series ( and it was getting later and later in the day. Those concerts begin at 8 PM ET every Sunday. Well, she wound up not waiting for her constantly delayed flight and eventually took a train home, getting in at 9:30 PM. At first, we thought we had to cancel and then realized we can do he concert another time. We contacted the ticket holders and moved the concert to Monday night instead. As usual, she was fantastic.

She talked about her first Broadway show, which was Bridges of Madison County. She was a swing and covered multiple roles. Near the end of the run, she had to go on for Whitney Bashor. Jess is Italian and has dark hair and Whitney Bashor is blond and fair. Well, at this point in the show, they didn’t get Jessica a wig for her skin type, so she just wore Whitney’s wig. Around that time, there was a story being done on Jason Robert Brown (who wrote the score) and he was conducting the show that night. Well, Jessica remembers coming onstage and Jason happened to be looking down. When he looked up, right before the song, and saw the blond wig contrasting Jessica dark visage, she saw his face registered a combo of shock/horror concluding in physical recoiling. The good news is, they got through the song but to this day, whenever they see each other, Jason will say “Vosk! Do you remember that sh*t wig you had to wear for Bridges?” Here she is doing the song sans wig.

I asked Jessica how she got to Carnegie Hall and she told me that it began with a booker seeing her perform in various venues. She didn’t know he had come. Then, Jessica said she was performing in a group show at The Green Room and, for some reason, was feeling precious about her voice. There were two shows in a row and she told everyone she could not be disturbed between shows because she had to rest her voice. P.S. she admitted to me she only had one (1) song to sing. Regardless, between shows, someone told her there was a man who wanted to talk to her, but Jessica reiterated she had to rest the gift. Again, the man inquired whether they could speak and again Jessica was firm in her decision for total vocal rest. 

Well, Jessica’s friend came back and handed Jessica the man’s card so Jess could contact him later. Jessica saw that the card was for the booker for Carnegie Hall. OMG! She said she immediately ran like the wind out of the backstage area, hightailed it to the elevator, took it downstairs STAT. She scanned the downstairs lobby to see if he had left yet, but she didn’t see him, so she called the number on the card, panting, and asked him if he was down the block. He responded that he had sat down for dinner at The Green Room and saw her sprint by him. He told her that he assumed there was a family emergency. BUSTED. She babbled an excuse for her marathon-like running and they wound up chatting and he booked her for a concert at Carnegie Hall. And that concert just happened a few weeks ago and it sold out. How amazing is that?

Beth Leavel and Seth Courtesy of Seth Rudetsky

I also did a concert recently with Beth Leavel and she sang from Drowsy Chaperone, Show Boat, Grease, Follies, Gypsy, The Prom, and more. I asked her about winning the Tony Award and she told us about the rehearsal that morning. Sutton Foster performed “Show Off” on the telecast which normally doesn’t feature the whole cast, but Casey Nicolaw (the director/choreographer) staged the whole cast coming on at the end so they could be featured on the telecast. Beth told us they rehearsed that morning and there was a pose at the end of the number where she threw her arms forward.

Well, during rehearsal, she threw her arms forward…as well as through her beaded necklace. The beads scattered everywhere. She bent down and was frantically trying to pick them up but, at the same time, was being told by the stage manager to clear the stage immediately. Why? Because the cast of Sweeney Todd was about to enter…in the dark…led by Patti LuPone. AH! Beth fled the stage as directed but was in panic all day that she would somehow be responsible for “killing Patti LuPone.” She waited throughout the day to hear if there had been a terrible accident cause by fallen beads but heard nothing. Apparently, Patti got on and off without a hitch. But that wasn’t the end of the beads: Right before Beth left her dressing room at the Marquis Theater to go to the Tony Awards, her dresser handed her a green bead and told her she found it at Radio City Music Hall. Beth pocketed it and, that evening, won the Tony Award. Ever since then, she’s carried that lucky green bead with her everywhere. During our show, it was in her bra! Here she is winning her Tony.

P.S. On Sunday, I’m doing my livestream concert series again. Come see me and Broadway’s Anastasia, Christy Altomare. Here is her bizarre/amazing promo for our concert a la Tiger King. So weird. Tix for our livestream concert are at Peace out!

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