Annaleigh Ashford steps out of ‘Kinky Boots’ 

click to enlarge Annaleigh Ashford brings her cabaret act to the Venetian Room this weekend. - COURTESY  ANNALEIGH ASHFORD
  • COURTESY ANNALEIGH ASHFORD
  • Annaleigh Ashford brings her cabaret act to the Venetian Room this weekend.
If Annaleigh Ashford always seems to be smiling, it may be because her career of late has been downright kinky and loaded with sex. The petite star with the big voice might even be willing share a few professional secrets in her Venetian Room debut Saturday with Bay Area Cabaret.

Ashford is probably most widely known for her role as Betty DiMello, a prostitute who tried unsuccessfully to juggle a girlfriend and a husband, then became the legit and resourceful office manager of a sex research clinic on Showtime’s “Masters of Sex.”

“I’m so grateful that I get to tell about Betty’s story,” says Ashford of her complicated character. “She is a fabulous, dynamic, powerful yet vulnerable woman. As an actress it’s very rare to have the opportunity to play a character with such depth. I treasure it.”

The series will soon shoot its new season, which airs this summer, but Ashford can’t offer plot teasers. “I wish I could. I never know anything. I just show up and put on my lashes,” she says.

The Denver native just completed a year’s run of the Broadway revival of “You Can’t Take It With You” with James Earl Jones, which marked her fifth stop on the Great White Way in less than a decade.

During that period she’s ridden Glinda’s bubble in “Wicked,” said “OMG!” a lot in “Legally Blonde” and let the sun shine in “Hair.” She has also been something of a go-to performer for musicals in development, workshopping recent titles like “Heathers,” “Catch Me If You Can,” “The Addams Family,” “Diner” and “Feeling Electric,” which became “Next to Normal.”

“I’ve had such an amazing opportunity to work on so many different types of projects that continued on to Broadway. Unfortunately I didn’t always continue on with them. Still, you know, I always had such a great pride in kind of helping the authors and directors create the show.”

The pattern broke with her Tony-nominated turn as Lauren, the shoe factory worker who inspires the boss – for whom she is pining – to take a walk on the wild side in “Kinky Boots.”

“It was actually the very first show for which did all the workshops and actually ended up getting to do on Broadway. I remember on opening night, coming out for my last bow and realizing that I had, you know, worked on it for so many years. It was just such a gift to actually get to do it.”

IF YOU GO

Annaleigh Ashford

Presented by Bay Area Cabaret

Where: Venetian Room, Fairmont Hotel, 950 Mason St., S.F.

When: 5 p.m. April 19

Tickets: $45 to $50

Contact: (415) 392-4400, www.bayareacabaret.org

About The Author

Robert Sokol

Robert Sokol

Bio:
Robert Sokol is the editor at BAYSTAGES, the creative director at VIA MEDIA, and a lifelong arts supporter. Diva wrangler, cinefiler, and occasional saloon singer, he has been touching showbiz all his life. (So far no restraining orders have been issued!)... more
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