UNCG Magazine

Broadway star Beth Leavel will speak at May Commencement

Beth Leavel owns some of Broadway’s biggest awards, including a Tony.

On May 6, she’ll receive an honorary degree from UNCG Greensboro, her alma mater. And she will address the graduates as the commencement speaker.

After graduating from UNCG with her master’s in fine arts in 1980, she headed to New York to build her acting career – and is now recognized as one of Broadway’s greatest stars. In fact, she is preparing for the lead role of Miranda Priestly in “The Devil Wears Prada” in Chicago this summer, before a much-anticipated Broadway run.

She has visited campus several times in the past decade to give masterclasses and speak with UNCG acting students. At each master class, she tells her own story and offers tips and advice.

The commencement address will be in front of thousands of graduating Spartans. “I hope I can share something, impart something. I hope I can be entertaining,” she said. “And I hope they leave with more joy in their hearts.”

The most important thing the Raleigh native learned as a grad student at UNCG? “That I was in the right place, and doing what I should be doing. To have that affirmed and confirmed, in the two years I was there, gave me the confidence to leap and take the next step.”

Leavel’s star turn in Broadway’s “The Drowsy Chaperone” – in a role written especially for her – earned her a Tony Award as well as Drama Desk, NY Outer Critics Circle and L.A. Drama Critics awards.

She was nominated for a 2019 Tony, Drama Desk, Drama League and NY Outer Critics Circle award for her performance in the critically acclaimed Broadway show “The Prom.” She also received Tony, Drama Desk, and Outer Critics Circle nominations for her performance in “Baby It’s You.” Other Broadway roles include Mrs. June Adams in “Bandstand,” Emily in “Elf,” Donna in “Mamma Mia!,” Frau Blucher in “Young Frankenstein,” Dorothy Brock in the revival of “42nd  Street,” Tess in the original company of “Crazy for You,” Mrs. Bixby in “The Civil War,” Ellie in Hal Prince’s “Showboat,” and Anytime Annie (her Broadway debut) in “42nd Street.” She has numerous Off-Broadway, regional theater, commercials, and TV credits, including the final episode of ER and most recently “The Walking Dead” and “The Bite.

She has starred in 13 shows on Broadway – and counting.

By Mike Harris ’93 MA
Courtesy visual

See 2019 UNCG Magazine feature on Beth Leavel.

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