On the Rise: Bethany Moore
A quadruple threat soars in Broadway’s
As Ulla in
The Producers at Kansas City’s Starlight Theatre. Photo by Starlight Theatre/Bob Compton Photography.
In the opening number of Broadway’s Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, flaxen-haired girls fly out on shimmering yellow aerial silks. One particular set of endless legs, cashew feet, and fluid port de bras stands out as technically impeccable. Later, a faux-sexy wrestling-ring girl totters in heels to hilarious effect. Then, in “Freak Like Me,” a long body etches choreographer Chase Brock’s hip hop pops impeccably. It’s all one knockout quadruple threat named Bethany Moore. Dancer, singer, actor, and comedienne, she’s a winning combination of showgirl-meets-Lucille Ball.
Moore had her eye on Broadway since childhood. But how she got her break sounds like a plot from an old movie. With injuries and other problems plaguing the production, Spider-Man shuttered last year for a revamp. When Version 2.0 was in the works, a tall dancer was needed for an immediate replacement. “I was lying on my couch when my agent called and asked if I could be at the Spider-Man theater in a half-hour,” Moore says. “I pulled my hair into a ponytail and ran!” After a vocal audition, Moore earned the right to stay the rest of the day and dance Brock’s choreography. “That became my favorite audition ever,” she says. “I was so out of my comfort zone that I wasn’t second guessing or over-thinking.” A few hours after the audition ended, she got the call.
Brock still remembers her tryout. “Bethany immediately stood out for her spirit,” he says. “And she really can do everything—dance, sing, and act. She knows how to squeeze the best out of every moment.”
Moore, 27, grew up in Clarion, Pennsylvania, and started studying ballet and jazz at 6. Appearing in a production of Annie when she was 11 made her fall in love with musical theater. She started taking voice lessons and attended competitions. When Moore was 17, she met Lynne Kurdziel-Formato at a Dance Masters of America convention. Moore soon followed Kurdziel-Formato to SUNY Buffalo, where she was on the faculty.
On top of a grueling school schedule, Moore also worked professionally. At the end of her senior year, she skipped a final to attend the Cats national tour audition. She booked the gig, and a steady stream of work at regional houses (The Producers) and tours followed. When she finally returned to New York, she hit her first dry spell. “It made me stronger, being a typical out-of-work actor in New York,” she says. “It made me even more thankful for all the work I’d had.”
Once she landed her Spider-Man slot, things moved quickly. Moore still remembers the whiplash quality of her Spider-Man rehearsals. “I had four days to learn old numbers from video and then Chase’s new choreography before we transferred to the theater.” Regardless, Moore says the experience has been a happy one. “I like to make my characters in the show interesting and funny—really Lucille Ball it up!”
Moore stays grounded by taking class and participating in a rotating cast of The Broadway Dolls, the Great White Way’s informal girl rock group. (Not to mention, she’s found her own Broadway love story, dating the bass player from the Spider-Man pit.) But most of all, she’s looking forward to a long run. “Spider-Man has changed my outlook on my career,” she says. “Things don’t always turn out the way you expect, but it can be a beautiful surprise.”
Lauren Kay is a New York dancer and writer.