I’m the first to admit, I don’t have a whole lot in life to complain about. I have a great family, I enjoy my writing, corresponding with readers, and other ventures which bring me joy, but in those rare moments when I’m feeling bitter, a little Betty Butterfield always makes me feel a bit better.
The wonderful performer who plays Betty has gotten a lot of flack for performing a non-P.C. character as well, and I can’t help but wonder if that transgression is why “Betty” is not a bigger star… Not every one of her videos is a hit out of the ball park, but most can easily bring a few laughs, especially if you have Southern roots, as I do!
I gotta admit, I love being name-checked by people I respect! Band of Thebes and Stephen Bottum gave me an unexpected shout-out in referencing the birthday of Fortune Feimster and my love for her character of Hooter’s waitress Darlene Witherspoon. Yes, it is comedy of the lowest common denominator, but any excuse to share a funny video is good by me. Enjoy!
Musical theater lovers, rejoice! Show business has a new star, and you won’t have to fork over a month’s rent paying Broadway-style ticket prices to see her. Not only can you watch her from the comfort of your very own home, but she performs from her very own home, with living room or bedroom as the only set-piece. Forget the fancy scenery; for this actress, the backdrop may be just her bed, a few show posters, or maybe even a sheet, hung up behind her to help with sound.
The scenery, though, doesn’t really matter, once you hear “the voice.” Since 2007, Alex Heinen has been building a name for herself with a YouTube channel, where she goes by the user name “Miss Broadway Dork.” With more than 2 million video views, Heinen is followed by a host of eager subscribers, who highly anticipate her musical theater gems. And they can be quite vocal, freely expressing their feelings in the comment section.
Some fans can’t quite believe that Heinen’s exquisite voice comes out of–well–Heinen. While all videos on her channel posted after 10/12/07 are sung live, prior to that, Heinen would often post videos of herself lip-syncing to a prerecorded tape of her own voice, leading some to speculate that Heinen wasn’t actually singing the songs. This suspicion was compounded, in part, by her physical appearance. No frills when it comes to style, Heinen rarely puts on costumes or makeup to perform; she just pushes the record button. Having struggled with weight issues, Heinen’s physical appearance varies in the videos, and commenters have thrown jabs about her looks, assuming (falsely) that someone who appears as she does could not possibly sing the way that she does.
Heinen pushes aside such bullying, affirming that her passion lies not in the fame, but in the performing. For this “Broadway Dork,” the pleasure lies in creating one’s own stamp on a role, and diving into artistic challenges. Currently residing in central Illinois, Heinen received her B.A. in Theatre from Hampshire College, and recently took time to share with me more about her passion, theater, and her potential next steps.
Kergan Edwards-Stout: Thanks so much for agreeing to chat! Like many, I stumbled upon your YouTube channel one day, and was immediately impressed.
Alex Heinen: Thank you so much!
Edwards-Stout: What inspired you to start your channel?
Heinen: I think it was simply that I love singing. I grew up doing a lot of musical theater in high school, but I got very nervous when it came to singing in public. I had a bad case of stage fright, which led to what I call “goat girl” voice, where my vibrato gets really fast. I thought it might be a good challenge to put myself out there on the internet and see if it helped my nerves. And I guess it did!
Edwards-Stout: In a big way! You don’t seem nervous at all… Where did your love for musical theater come from? (more…)