November 1, 1955
Raleigh, North Carolina, United States
Musical theatre actress Beth Leavel achieved Tony Award-winning success with her leading performance in "The Drowsy Chaperone" before originating roles in "Baby It's You," "Bandstand" and "The Prom." Born in Raleigh, NC in 1955, Beth Leavel earned a social work degree before switching her focus to the stage, studying theater at the University of North Carolina and appearing in regional productions of "Hello, Dolly!" and "Cabaret." She landed her first Broadway gig playing chorus girl Annie in the 1985 staging of "42nd Street," a musical she would return to 16 years later in the role of faded star Dorothy. Leavel's original cast debut came in 1992 when she played dance director in the Gershwin-penned musical comedy "Crazy for You." She went on to appear in the 1994 revival of "Show Boat," portray both Mrs. Bixby and Mabel in "The Civil War" and make her screen debut in a 2004 episode of "Law and Order: Criminal Intent" (NBC, 2001-2011). Her profile grew significantly in 2006 when she was awarded Best Featured Actress in a Musical for her performance as drunken diva Beatrice Stockwell in 1920s parody "The Drowsy Chaperone." Leavel subsequently landed the parts of housekeeper Frau Blucher and Buddy's stepmother Emily in the stage adaptations of Mel Brooks' "Young Frankenstein" and festive favorite "Elf," respectively, and in 2009 replaced Carolee Carmello in the leading role of Donna in ABBA phenomenon "Mamma Mia!" Leavel continued her winning streak when she picked up a Tony Award nomination for her portrayal of real life record label boss Florence Greenberg in The Shirelles jukebox musical "Baby It's You." After venturing onto the big screen for the first time with a minor role in ensemble dramedy "This Is Where I Leave You" (2014), Leavel played mother figure Mrs. June Adams in post-WWII musical "Bandstand" and impressed the Tony Awards panel for a third time with her turn as self-involved hasbeen actress Dee Allen in musical satire "The Prom."