Beth Stafford Laird is no stranger to life on the road. The actress, who grew up in Wayne, PA, counts COMPANY as her fifth national tour. The musical comedy, which features some of Stephen Sondheim’s best-known hits, arrives at the Forrest Theatre this month. Beth talked with Phindie about her role in the show and her plans while back in Philadelphia.
[Forrest Theatre, on the Kimmel Cultural Campus, 1114 Walnut St] November 28-December 10, 2023; kimmelculturalcampus.org
Debra Danese: You’ve been cast as both “Bobbie Double” and an understudy. What kind of performance schedule do you have in these roles?
Beth Stafford Laird: While it might sound as though a double and an understudy might do the same thing, I think it helps to think of “Bobbie Double” as the character name of the role I play; rather than a job title. I perform on stage every night in the show as the “Bobbie Double.” Namely in two particular moments where the main character, “Bobbie,” played by the gorgeous Britney Coleman, is suddenly watching herself play out various moments of her life, possibly real, possibly imagined!
Alternatively, as an understudy, I cover both the roles of “Bobbie” and “Jenny.” That means I’ve studied and rehearsed those two parts and can be ready to perform either of them in the event that the regularly performing actress is out of the show for any reason. If that were to happen, then one of our other understudies who covers the “Bobbie Double” would then step into my regular role. That’s why proper coverage in a show is so important. It takes an elaborate web of team work to keep the show in working order. I’m lucky enough to be on a team of understudies who are immensely talented, and a joy to work with every day.
DD: You have quite a few tours to your credits. What do you enjoy most about being on the road?
BSL: Yes, this will be my 5th tour over the last 10 years. I really enjoy getting to explore each city, even the ones I’m revisiting. I like finding (or refinding) different spots to eat, get coffee, and see what makes each place unique. It’s also an incredible excuse to see friends and family who live in places around the country I don’t often visit otherwise. I’ve maintained and rekindled many friendships simply from the times I get to see them when my show is in town. The thing about performing is that so much of the lifestyle is routine and predictable. Touring adds that element of something new on top of what we do every day—new city, new theater, new local crew, new weather, new audiences, and on and on. All of which keeps you on your toes and constantly adapting amidst the repetition of the show from week to week.
DD: You list “coffee drinker” on the About Me page of your website. Where have you found your best cup of coffee?
BSL: Ah, yes! Well, on the road, I’m a loyal user of Aeropress to make my morning coffee. I’ll grind the beans fresh with a manual grinder. I started off the tour a few weeks ago with a bag of beans from Counter Culture. From there, I like to buy a bag of beans from a local coffee shop or roaster in whatever city I happen to be in. I’ll be on the lookout for a new spot very soon.
DD: Best part of coming back to Philly?
BSL: Hands down, getting to see my family. I grew up on the Main Line, and will likely stay in my childhood home during our run of the show. That means I’ll get to take SEPTA to work every day (R5 baby!), which I honestly enjoy. No trip home is complete without some Wawa, anything from Reading Terminal Market, and mussels, fries and beer at Monk’s Cafe. I also love taking people to the Magic Gardens on South Street for the first time, and from there, grabbing a cheesesteak from Ishkabibbles. And since we’ll be in town near the holidays, visiting the Christmas Village at City Hall!
COMPANY arrives at the Forrest Theatre, on the Kimmel Cultural Campus, from November 28 through December 10, 2023. [1114 Walnut St, Philadelphia, PA]