Beth Fowler: A Real Lady On Stage
While one show on Broadway laments what ever happened to class, another show three blocks away answers the question. You'd be hard-pressed to find a classier woman on Broadway nowadays than Beth Fowler, currently in The Boy From Oz.I recently sat with Fowler in her Imperial Theater dressing room to talk about her solid and impressive career. Even more impressive is that unlike many performers today who knew exactly what they wanted to do when they were born; Beth "fell back on" performing after being a teacher of music for several years. "I figured I could always go back to teaching... I just never have as much as I loved it."Fowler was no stranger to Broadway having grown up in nearby
Beth had a second opportunity to work with Sondheim in 1989 when she took on the role of Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd at Circle in the Square. She remembers the experience very fondly and says "I don't know how anyone could NOT be so much in awe and thrilled to work with Stephen." She continues with an anecdote: "There's a kinescope of the recording session of Company and in it Stephen is in the booth with Tom Shepard during 'You Could Drive a Person Crazy' and they were having pitch problems or something he says to Tom, 'I'll go talk to the performer.' I remember sitting in my parents living room and watching this and thinking 'oh my god I would die if this ever happened to me
so a few weeks after we opened there was a party in his house and we're all having drinks, food and a good time and he showed the film 'Something For Everyone' because Hal had directed it and Angela (Lansbury) was in it. Then we had dessert and I am sitting at this card table and the projector is here, I'm over here and Stephen is here (and I already had a couple of drinks already) and Stephen leans over and says, 'you know I have the kinescope of the recording of Company is there anybody interested in watching this? And I just started sobbing I can't believe I am here at Sondheim's home and being offered to watch this
" Fowler laughs at the memory and then relays that she realized at that moment she was living her dream.
The role of Mrs. Lovett garnered Fowler a TONY Nomination. She didn't win that year nor did she even expect to. "I knew I wasn't going to win I was up against Tyne Daly who was doing the greatest role
now I have to tell you this story. The last week of Sweeney, Stephen (Sondheim) came to my dressing room and said a bunch of very nice things to me. And in that talk he included remarks which included the statement that he thought I would never get a part better than this (Lovett) that there's no better part written for a woman. I thought it was a little odd at the time
I'm sure he didn't mean that I was never going to work again (she laughs) but I thought it was an odd thing to say
especially because a few years later I did Mama Rose and I know what an incredible arc and journey that character takes
so I just thought it was a very interesting thing that he said that
Many of Fowler's roles on stage have been that of a parent/mother figure (Peter Pan, Baby, Beauty and the Beast, The Boy from Oz) and although she has been married for 27 years, she's never had any children. Directors and the like have all simply told her she has that "quality." This quality has worked against her for some roles, she told me. She performed as Miss Mona in Best Little Whorehouse in
With award season upon the theater community, Beth is sure to be one of the names being tossed around the voting committees. While awards are always wonderful to receive, it's clear that Fowler is already happy with the rewards of her career. "I've been very blessed to be in wonderful shows that I've really had a good time with. I've never been happier with this show I am in now. I love coming to work everyday the talented cast It's just so much fun."