BWW Interview: Beth Malone of BROADWAY @ NOCCA at New Orleans Center For Creative Arts
Beth Malone is bringing the Fun Home to New Orleans this week at New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA). I hopped on the call with Beth, expecting a quick fifteen-minute call, and forty minutes later, we had yet to run out of topics to discuss.
Malone, in her first time in New Orleans, will bring her voice to the NOCCA stage alongside Sirius XM Star Seth Rudetsky. When I asked her what she had prepared for us, she said, "I sent Seth a pile of songs and he gets to curate them, so I have no idea. People have requested 'Maps' which I never get to sing. I've always loved that song."
"Maps," a Fun Home original, is a solo song sung by Malone's character, Allison Bechdel. Fun Home, a heartbreaking and beautiful Tony Award winner for Best Musical, follows Allison Bechdel as she takes a microscope to her life to learn more about her father's secret life and the effects it held on her own.
"The thing I learned from Fun Home," Malone said, "was how theater works. It doesn't have to resemble your family at all to be your story. It's so weird how universal Fun Home is."
Malone went on to explain how in her time with Fun Home, audience members were eager to share their stories with her, and each person connects with the show on an elemental level. She explains, "I have a theory about it. It's in the scene work. Every fiber of the underscoring is working on your nervous system. The way Lisa wrote the scenes is so innocuous. The audience learns something really delicate and specific with each line. It's genius."
"It was the right time and place for it. It was a moment in history," Beth goes on to explain the unique magic that is Fun Home and how it found its way on stage.
When asked if she would ever reprise the role, Malone said, "I don't feel like I want to do it until all of us do it together again. Our experience was so perfect that I don't want to muddy it with other memories."
In a role that requires three actors to play the same character, it's no surprise that you bond with your cast. Studying under the real-life Alison, Malone says, "We used to call her TRAD: The Real Alison Bechdel. It's really an honor and a blessing to have her so close to it. There were years when it was being developed that she was not around. She stayed away on purpose because she thought it was never going to get done. When she sat down with it, that's when she became more invested."
In addition to Fun Home, Beth Malone has tackled roles such as the Angel in Angels in America and Molly in The Unsinkable Molly Brown. When it comes to acting, Malone is not afraid of challenging herself.
"I was so looking forward to Molly Brown after Fun Home because I needed a palette cleanser, but I went and turned Molly Brown into the most physically demanding role I've ever played. I just wanted to blow it up and have it be Cirque de Soleil," Malone says. "It was as physically draining as Fun Home was emotionally draining."
Perhaps Malone's career so far is best described by a painted plate she received as a gift. "On the plate, there's Molly, the Angel, and Alison. You couldn't see three more different kinds of characters."
Beth Malone will perform on the NOCCA stage for one night only, January 31st at 7:30 p.m. Broadway @ NOCCA is sponsored by the New Orleans Hotel Collection and The New Orleans Advocate. All proceeds from the 2018/19 Broadway @ NOCCA series will benefit The NOCCA Institute.
For tickets and information, please visit www.broadwaynola.com or call 800-838-3006.