Beth Glover brings life to drama

“Help my Daddy!” Beth Glover vividly remembers screaming this as she watched her father being killed in the play “Arsenic and Old Lace.” She was 4.

This introduction might have scared another small child from ever returning to the theater, but Beth went on to make a life there. How she got to New York City from Hattiesburg, Miss., where she was born and grew up, is a story of determination, hard work, and a little serendipity.

Beth describes her parents as “latent hippies” who ran the community theater and had artistic friends. Her father was a “Jack of all trades” who worked at the town’s radio and TV station, where he had every job imaginable-on camera, off camera, salesman and clown for Golden Flake potato chips. Beth’s mother was a fourth grade teacher for 30 years, in addition to working other jobs on weekends and after school. She came from a poor family and wanted her children to have what she never had. So Beth had dance lessons -?two to five times a week -?voice lessons, piano lessons, saxophone lessons, and twirling lessons. In addition, she swam competitively, was in many pageants, went to church three times a week and was in the church’s youth group and puppet ministry. “You name it, I did it,” Beth stated.

Baton twirling was a big deal in the South and Beth got a partial scholarship for it at the University of Southern Mississippi, where she twirled at football games. She had decided to major in broadcast journalism; she’d been in the newsroom at the TV station in Hattiesburg with her dad and really loved reporting. After getting her four-year degree, she realized that she needed to get out of Mississippi. She wrote letters to every TV station in the country that she’d like to work for and applied for internships. She got into WGBH in Boston, CNN in Atlanta, and a station in Hawaii. The only place she could live free of charge was Atlanta, where she could stay with her aunt. Beth described this as serendipitous– “stars collided.” With her living arrangements resolved, she could accept the internship, which didn’t pay any salary.

Even though Beth was the first person at her college to get such a huge internship-quite an honor-she knew the first day in the newsroom that it wasn’t the right place for her. That moment is etched in her memory, when she heard a voice say “You’re in the wrong place.” She can see it in her head, remembers what she was wearing, every detail of it. But still she knew she needed to get hired by CNN after the internship and worked like a dog to make it happen. She moved into the marketing department, where they hired her.

Beth knew she didn’t want to go home to Mississippi. She thought she’d get stuck in the newsroom there, marry someone, have two kids and become an alcoholic. She knew she had to stay in Atlanta and start a new life for herself. The minute she got into the marketing department at CNN and had a 9-5 job, she had her nights free, allowing her to study at the Alliance, a premier national theater. She also waited tables so she could earn money to move to New York City. “I think I always knew acting was for me. You have to find a place where you fit in and I fit in theater,” Beth said.

Beth was worried how her parents were going to take the news that she was going to move to New York City, where she’d gotten into the prestigious American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Her job paid well at CNN and she’d been promoted a couple of times. But, to her surprise, Beth’s parents were excited for her and even matched the $1,000 she’d saved. Even CNN was good to her – they made sure she had a job in the CNN branch in New York, where she worked for another year while going to AADA. But she was living in two worlds -?that of the newsroom and the theater – and needed to make a decision which path to follow. So she left CNN and waited tables and did other odd jobs while finishing acting school.

Beth admits to being an overachiever. She’d won every award she could possibly win in high school and college. She even was in the college’s hall of fame. But she knew that at her acting school graduation, she wasn’t going to be getting any awards. This made her very worried -?her entire family was at the ceremony and she didn’t want to disappoint them. When she was getting up to leave after the ceremony, the dean came up to her and said there was a producer who wanted to meet her. She laughed because she didn’t believe him. But it was true. Arthur Whitelaw was a major producer who produced “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown,” among others, on Broadway. He said to Beth, “I have a show I think you’d be right for. Would you like to audition this afternoon?” Beth said, “This afternoon? I have my whole family here from Mississippi.” They settled on a time that allowed her to retrieve her music and get her family to a restaurant . One thing Whitelaw said to Beth before leaving was “Stay dressed exactly how you are.” For her graduation, she’d worn a 50s dress with a big skirt, sweetheart neckline, and big jewelry -?not a modern style, but Beth had wanted to wear it.

After the audition, Beth thanked them, said it was a great opportunity and was leaving. The people auditioning her said, “Where are you going?” She answered, “to the restaurant.” They replied, “You can tell them you got the job.” Instead of a voice telling her “You’re in the wrong place,” this was an event telling her “You’re in the right place!” Her family didn’t believe her when she got back to the restaurant – why would they? She’d just graduated that afternoon from acting school! This first acting job was the first national tour of a musical called “The Taffetas.” It was a 50s girl group, so Beth was dressed exactly for the part at her graduation. It was a great first “gig” for Beth. On that tour, they opened for Ray Charles and stayed in the best hotels.

Beth has been in many, many plays since “The Taffetas.” They include national tours, off-Broadway, and regional theater. She just finished playing Blanche DuBois in “A Streetcar Named Desire” at Pendragon Theater in Saranac?Lake. She’s also been in films, television, sketch comedy, a one-person cabaret called “Mississippi Voodoo,” and TV and radio commercials. The best way to see the listing of all these accomplishments, since there isn’t the space here, is to go to Beth’s website:

Beth Glover’s life is one where there is very little downtime. There are auditions three to five times a week, learning new lines, rehearsing, acting in a play, film, or TV show, and staying in shape by going to voice and acting lessons. She realizes that she needs to be nicer to herself but, at the same time, she loves the challenges theater provides for her, where she can grow and learn.