Beth Kirkpatrick ‘03 received a Bachelor of Music degree in vocal performance and a Musical Theatre Certificate from Northwestern. A multi-talented performer, she is best known for understudying Madame Thenardier in Broadway's Les Miserables and for the original cast recording and both original premiers of The Hunchback of Notre Dame as the Madam.
Kirkpatrick has recently played Mrs. Gloop on the National Tour of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory; understudied Betty Buckley as Dolly Levi in the National Tour of Hello, Dolly; and appeared as Shawntel/Eve in Jerry Springer: the Opera. Concert work includes her hit show Beth Kirkpatrick: The Big Gay Setup and a one-woman show entitled The Broads of Broadway, along with performances with the New Jersey Festival Orchestra and the Blue Ash Montgomery Symphony Orchestra.
What made you choose the Bienen School of Music?
I was a cherub in 1998 and fell in love with Northwestern's campus. I got the opportunity there to study with Karen Brunssen, and it was the first time I'd been in a competitive environment when it came to my singing. It inspired me to finish high school with a new drive, and when it was time to pick a school, Northwestern was my first choice.
Which professors influenced you most during your time at the Bienen School of Music?
Definitely Professor Brunssen, who was my biggest champion and guide, but also Ken Smith (former vocal coach), who was one of my favorite coaches, and Robert Harris (professor emeritus), who taught me so many things by being so specific and demanding as a choral conductor.
What lessons did you learn at Bienen that have continued to resonate with you in your career?
Hard work and preparedness always pay off—I had never practiced so much in my life! Also, everyone is on their own path and comparison leads to disappointment. I also really found myself at Bienen; I started as a mezzo, ended as a soprano, and really learned what I loved about performing and what was important to me as an artist.
Tell us about a particular experience that impacted you during your time at the Bienen School of Music.
Some of my favorite memories include playing the Sorceress in Dido and Aeneas and directing the Freshman Musicale, but probably preparing for and performing my senior recital was one of the most impactful. I got to really delve into music, translation, and performance in an immersive way, and came up with something I was really proud of.
Top three of your Desert Island Discs (any genre)
Joni Mitchell - Ladies of the Canyon
The Hunchback of Notre Dame - Studio Cast Recording (although this one is cheating because I'm on it)
Eugen Jochum's Carmina Buran
Backstage photos (from left) as Mrs. Gloop, Dolly Levi, and Madame Thenardier