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Beth Leavel teaching a UNCG musical theatre student
Beth Leavel teaching UNCG theatre students

Tony Award-winning actress and UNC Greensboro alumna Beth Leavel ’80 MFA left an indelible impression on musical theatre students in the College of Visual and Performing Arts last week. Teaching a masterclass in the Sprinkle Theatre – by all accounts one of the best-ever to be given at the University – Leavel offered advice for sustaining a successful career on Broadway, answered students’ questions, and shared anecdotes from her career – from failure to success to meeting Meryl Streep. 

Musical theatre students came to hear her recommendations on how to nail an audition, work with a musical accompanist, and perform a song for an auditorium of thousands. Students like Molly Oldham got to ask questions and leave inspired.

“It’s not every day you have the chance to be in the same room with and work and learn from someone who has shaped the industry the way Beth has for me,” said Oldham.

“Beth walked into Sprinkle Theatre with such confidence and instantly made everyone feel comfortable. She was really personal with all of the students and approached every song from a different perspective. She’s so knowledgeable about all things performing, so to learn from her in a very hands-on and active way was so fun and surreal. My greatest takeaway from the masterclass is that I am enough. She reminded us that we are our own people, and every single one of us has something unique to bring to the table. She also reminded us that we never have to apologize for who we are, and we are all capable of pursuing our dreams if we believe in our own talents.”

A Raleigh native, Leavel recently received an honorary degree from UNCG and served as the keynote speaker for the Class of 2022 Commencement on May 6. She told graduates her three key tenets of success: be prepared, be on time, and be kind.

“Beth Leavel is one of Broadway’s leading performers,” said Dominick Amendum, UNCG’s musical theatre program coordinator. “I’ve had the pleasure of working with her several times, and I’m always blown away by what she can do on stage. And Beth is also a tremendous teacher. Her work with our students was innovative and inspiring, all while being communicative in her fantastic brand of humor. She created a wonderful space for our students to learn and we can’t wait to have her back.” 

UNCG’s musical theatre program is one of the most competitive in the nation with a 2% acceptance rate. Students from the program go on to pursue successful careers on stage and screen – from Broadway to Hollywood to network television. The uniqueness of the program draws many students who want to immerse themselves in a welcoming environment led by world-class faculty.

Leavel is paving the way for the next generation of Broadway stars in typical Spartan fashion – paying it forward with selfless service. Next up for Leavel is the lead role of Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada. The Pre-Broadway World Premiere will run for a limited engagement, July 19 – August 21, 2022, at Chicago’s James M. Nederlander Theatre. 

Other artists who have given masterclasses to UNCG students include Geena Davis, Daveed Diggs, Margaret Atwood, Emmylou Harris, and more.

Story by Eden Bloss, University Communications
Photography by Martin W. Kane, University Communications

 
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