It is with great pleasure that the University of Findlay announces Tony Award-winner Beth Leavel as its January 2020 Donnell Broadway Concert Series Guest Artist. Along with her Tony, she received the Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle awards, as well as the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award, for her rousing performance in the title role in “The Drowsy Chaperone.” Accompanying her on piano will be award-winning Broadway musician Phil Reno.
The Jan. 26 concert will be held at 7:30 p.m. in UF’s Winebrenner Building on campus. Tickets, which go on sale beginning Dec. 30, will be $30 for adults, $27 for senior citizens, and $10 for non-UF students. They can be purchased at the Marathon Center for the performing Arts’ box office at 200 W. Main Cross St., or online at www.mcpa.org. Admission will be free for UF students, faculty, and staff with a valid University ID.
Leavel, who also served as the January 2011 series’ guest artist, has had a very successful Broadway career, appearing in 13 Broadway musicals. For her 14th Broadway performance, she will be creating the role of Miranda Priestly in a musical version of the movie “The Devil Wears Prada,” which is scheduled to preview in Chicago beginning in 2021.
The Raleigh, North Carolina native attended the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where she received an MFA in acting and directing.
Her Broadway debut took place in 1983 at the Majestic Theatre as a replacement in the role of “Anytime Annie” in the 1980 production of “42nd Street.” Her next Broadway outing was in the role of Ellie in the 1994 Hal Prince revival of “Show Boat” at the Gershwin Theatre.
She has also performed in several Off-Broadway productions throughout the country, such as the premiere of “The Gershwins’ Fascinating Rhythm” on the Hartford Stage in Connecticut, as Babe Williams in “The Pajama Game” for the Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera, and as Miss Hannigan in “Annie” at the Helen Hayes Performing Arts Center in Nyack, New York.
Following its Broadway opening on April 3, 2006, at the Marquis Theatre, “The Drowsy Chaperone” went on to receive 13 Tony Award nominations and win five, including one for Leavel as the Best Featured Actress in a Musical.
Leavel’s Broadway career has also included playing Frau Blucher in the Broadway production of Mel Brooks’ “Young Frankenstein; Donna Sheridan in the Broadway mega-hit production of “Mamma Mia!” Her most recent Broadway show was “The Prom,” in which she originated the role of Dee Dee Allen. Her other role originations included Mrs. June Adams in “Bandstand” and Florence Greenberg in “Baby It’s You.”
For television, Ms. Leavel has appeared in numerous commercials and on “Ryan’s Hope,” Nickelodeon, “Law & Order: Criminal Intent,” “The Unusuals,” as well as in the role of Amy Taylor on the final episode of the landmark NBC dramatic series “ER.”
Leavel is a proud member of Actors’ Equity.
Reno, originally from Tiffin, Ohio, is the musical director and vocal arranger for the smash hit, “Something Rotten!,” a Tony Award-nominated musical comedy that opened on Broadway in 2015. Reno received two Grammy nominations for his work on the “Something Rotten!” cast recording. His first Grammy nomination was for the cast recording of “The Drowsy Chaperone.” Reno’s other Broadway work has included “The Producers,” “Promises Promises,” “Though Shalt Not,” “Cats,” and “Dame Edna: The Royal Tour.” He has also contributed orchestrations for the television show, “Broadway Under the Stars,” and the film adaptation of “The Producers.”
Thomas ’70 and Kathleen Donnell established the Thomas and Kathleen Donnell Broadway Concert Series Endowment Fund in conjunction with the University of Findlay’s Give Voice to your Values campaign.