Aspen Sojourner: Where were you when Broadway went dark in March 2020?
Beth Malone: We were in the middle of The Unsinkable Molly Brown Off-Broadway—we had opened about two weeks before and been nominated for a number of awards. The show closed on a Thursday night, and by Saturday my wife and I were hiking up Snowmass to go to Gwyn’s. We used to work there, as did all of our friends, so we skinned up and saw George and Gwyn and had a beer out on the deck with them.
Suddenly you had a lot of free time to spend at your condo in Snowmass Village. How did you stay engaged and inspired creatively?
We enjoyed having the whole ski experience to ourselves. We would bang pots and howl for doctors every night at 8 o’clock, we would drink wine.... It was fantastic for a while. But as spring came and then summer, reality started to set in that this was for the long haul. I have had this nagging project on the shelf of my brain for many years. It’s a show called Star Struck, and Emily Saliers of the Indigo Girls is now writing the score.
What is the show about?
It’s a queer treatment of the Cyrano de Bergerac story. Emily and I are collaborating on the lyrics, but we’re also taking existing Indigo Girls songs and repurposing them in our narrative. So it’s going to have songs that you know and love but also original material. She’s an amazing composer, and her lyrics are astonishing. She has a way with melody that just sinks into your bones.
Are you writing yourself a part in your own musical?
Absolutely! Everyone keeps asking me, “So, what is next for you?” I always want to say, “I want to be Steve Martin,” but I don’t see any parts being written for a female that do what his do. I thought about Roxanne [Martin’s 1987 rom-com based on the play Cyrano de Bergerac], and wouldn’t it be great to do a musical version and I would play Cyrano? Something about the nature of truth itself is going to make its way into this show—about small-town politics and how we can vilify each other and learn to see each other again across the aisle.
Speaking of politics, fans may have glimpsed you on TV during the presidential inauguration celebration in January, when you, your wife, and your two dogs appeared virtually in a segment with other Broadway stars. How did that come together?
The whole thing happened within 48 hours. We had to learn our parts to sing, record the vocals, and send separate vocal tracks so they sounded good. Then we had to shoot ourselves lip-syncing, and then they edited it together to make it a seamless piece.
And you managed to get in a small slice of the Roaring Fork Valley, filming the last bit outside in your new backyard.
We had just bought a home in Ironbridge [the golf community between Carbondale and Glenwood Springs] and moved in. We still own the condo in Snowmass Village, because we also rent it out. Our friends were like, “What? You’re moving downvalley?” But babies sometimes have to grow up, and now we’re adults. Plus, we have a garage. A frickin’ garage!
You also appeared in Theatre Aspen’s summer 2020 cabaret series and this spring in a show with fellow Broadway stars Tamyra Gray and Elizabeth Stanley. That seems like a great way to keep performing while supporting a local cultural institution.
Last summer I made Theatre Aspen aware that hey, by the way, I’m in the valley and sitting around, and so they asked me to do the cabaret series. My first collaboration was with David Dyer, Sonya Meyer, and Damian Smith—we used pop music to tell a little story about quarantine. I don’t think it was something Theatre Aspen was expecting, and it was very fresh because it wasn’t a diva belting out show tunes. They then hired me to put together the spring show.
Would that have happened without the pandemic?
I wouldn’t even be in Colorado now. We try to spend as much time here as possible, but I also try not to post too many things on social media, so my agents don’t get cranky with me for being out of town. This last year has been a very relaxed experience where I’m openly in Colorado indefinitely, and it’s been a whole new vibe. And the industry has changed—I’ve booked several TV shows by sending in recorded script readings out of my closet, and then I go shoot them. It’s really awesome to not have to be in New York and still be a working actor.