There's a new madame in town, and this time she's played by the talented Beth Glover in Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella.
Glover returns to this touring gig after successful national tours of Promises, Promises, All Shook Up and Anything Goes. She has tackled roles in 9 to 5, Grey Gardens and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.
Windy City Times phoned her on the road to learn more about the lady behind the wicked stepmother in this classic musical.
Windy City Times: Hi, Beth. Where are you calling in from?
Beth Glover: Rochester, New York. It is snowing here so we are getting ready for Chicago!
WCT: It must be hard for a Mississippi girl.
BETH GLOVER: I love snow, though. We never got it as kids. We would get a dusting and people would make pathetic little snow people. These days, Mississippi gets snow and people don't believe in climate change...
WCT: So you are in the middle of the tour for Cinderella.
BETH GLOVER: Yes, this is our eighth city. It has been going by quickly. We have been doing one week stops. We finally sit with you in Chicago for three weeks. Then we have six weeks in L.A. so a lot more doable. It has been very hard on our crew because they did 41 days without a day off until Thanksgiving. I am looking forward to Chicago so we can all have some down time.
WCT: How is it playing the evil stepmother?
BETH GLOVER: It is really great. Being horrible on stage gives you a license to be another person. She's a power hungry woman. She's very misunderstood by her own estimation. She feels she needs to be another status. Anything in her way she is going to remove. That is the way I play it and that is the way it's directed.
Sometimes I feel really horrible because I have heard kids crying in the audience before. I told the director it makes me want to pull back but that is not the story we are telling. We are telling the old fairy tale where she is a horrible person.
What gets to me is we are in an age of bullying and there is one part where I am clearly being an asshole and there is no retribution. It's not about me, though; it's about her. She's getting married.
WCT: Have you seen the new Broadway version, with NeNe Leakes playing your part?
BETH GLOVER: This is the same version so they sent all of us to see the show. I saw Fran Drescher do it. I have heard Keke Palmer's Cinderella is heartbreaking and beautiful. I wish I could have seen her but I was trying to see other shows before we left town.
WCT: Do you enjoy all of the touring?
BETH GLOVER: Yes, I do but it is always an adjustment, especially as you get older. It is adjusting vocally from house to house.
WCT: Were you on the Anything Goes tour with Rachel York?
BETH GLOVER: No; this was going back 25 years. I was in the Patti LuPone version. I later took it out in a non-union version. I wore Patti's costumes. That was my second job out of school. I also partied a lot back then because I would go out with gay boys to the bars. I can't believe I did that. Thursday night was our night; then I would go belt that show out. That was crazy!
WCT: Patti LuPone was in Chicago [recently, singing at a benefit without a mic to show the acoustics of the Auditorium Theatre.
BETH GLOVER: She's certainly got the lung power. I did a workshop with her last year of a new musical and she never held back in rehearsal. We talked about Anything Goes and the costumes. She is much shorter than me so I only wore her costumes that stretched upward.
I was really close to getting her understudy role for Gypsy. I booked the first regional of Grey Gardens after the Broadway run at that point so that was more significant.
WCT: That's a great show.
BETH GLOVER: I have never gotten that kind of audience response before or since. There was such a yearning in that character. She stayed two years in that house after her mother died.
WCT: Have you performed in any lesbian roles?
BETH GLOVER: No one casts me as a lesbian. I will go in for the part then they will move me to the straight girl part. I have played a lesbian in a couple of independent films. I guess I don't get cast as a lesbian because I don't look the stereotype. That really irritates the shit out of me because we come in all shapes, sizes and looks. It was one of the things that confused me when I discovered that I was gay because there was no one who looked like me except for my girlfriend in college. When we were alone we thought it must just be a phase. We would go out with our boyfriends and double date then we would ditch them and go home together.
WCT: Things seemed to have changed since those college days.
BETH GLOVER: I hope so. I saw a play recently that had a stereotypical lesbian in it, [wearing] boots and no makeup. To be fair, there was a femme lesbian in a scene right after that my friend played. I know a lot of our girls dress even more masculine. We run the gamut. I want to see the rainbow when it hits the stage.
I needed Cinderella to have a powerful message for me after doing the play Streetcar Named Desire the year before. The book has been redone and it empowers Cinderella. Wait until you see it. She is making all of the decisions.
It was our lead producer Robyn Goodman's idea. I am driving Cinderella out of the house while the fairy godmother is aiding her with dresses and magic but she has to do it herself. She does and challenges herself. I think it is really important that little girls see she is owning it when they come to the show.
WCT: It is not about the man rescuing her.
BETH GLOVER: Exactlythat is what I love about it. It is great departure from Disney princesses. We are not doing the Disney version. This is Rodgers & Hammerstein and I truly love it.
Cinderella has a ball through Jan. 4 at the Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 W. Randolph St., with tickets and showtimes at broadwayinchicago.com .
Cinderella partners with the cast of Newsies for a holiday cabaret at Sidetrack, 3349 N. Halsted St., on Monday, Dec. 22a benefit for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS called "Seize the Slipper" at 7 p.m. There's a $25 suggested donation.