I first met Betsy Morgan in 2011 when I worked on Michael John LaChiusa’s Queen of the Mist with her music director boyfriend (now husband!) Chris Fenwick. We all quickly became fast friends. Betsy and I have since worked on a few readings and workshops together, and last fall we finally got to pair up on a full production - another Michael John LaChiusa masterpiece, First Daughters Suite. Betsy has been in six Broadway shows, two of which were in the Imperial Theatre on 45th Street! I asked her what she learned while working there on High Fidelity and Les Miserables…
TF: What did you learn about the history of the Imperial while you were working there?
BM: Not much, actually!! You always get a tour of the theater when you move from the rehearsal space, but it's usually backstage only. And it has less to do with the actual theater and more to do with how your show fits into the space. I knew that the theater was built specifically for musicals, and I knew that one of my favorite classics, The Most Happy Fella, opened there in 1956.
TF: What was your favorite thing about the Imperial Theatre?
BM: I made my Broadway Debut at the Imperial, so it will always stand out to me as such special place. I have lots of good memories that were made and life lessons that were learned there. Google the list of shows that have played there!! The Imperial has made some pretty awesome history. Gypsy? Cabaret? August Osage County? Annie Get Your Gun? The list goes on and on.
TF: Any ghost encounters?
BM: Nope!! (Phew.)
TF: Anything that stood out about working in this theater? Any fun facts?
BM: The list of actors who have worked in any Broadway Theatre is pretty incredible, but to have stood on the same stage as Ethel Merman, Jennifer Holiday, Mary Martin, and Gertrude Lawrence, to name just a few, is pretty humbling and awesome.
A fun fact from Les Miz is that there was no crossover on the stage level. If you had an exit on stage left and then a quick reentrance on stage right, you had to sprint downstairs, run across the length of the stage and then back up the stairs. On a two show day, I would say that on average I did at least 80 flights of stairs (Counting both up and down.) It's a good thing. Paris during a revolution? We ate lots of cake. (Different revolution, but you get the idea.)
TF: Do you know of anyone who shared your dressing room over the years?
BM: I was in the same dressing room for both High Fidelity and Les Miserables!! I don't know of anyone else who had that dressing room, other than those awesome ladies who shared with me during those shows.
Hey, Gene Kelly was in the ensemble of Leave it to Me at the Imperial in 1938! Maybe he was up in that ensemble dressing room!!