The Green Room: Ashley on Bette and Barry

The Green Room: Ashley on Bette and Barry

Welcome to The Green Room, a series within our blog where our performers share with you their thoughts and experiences. This first post is from Ashley Pankow, now appearing in BARRY, BETTE & BROADWAY, about her admiration for these 1970s pop icons.


What do I love about the Divine Miss M … let me count the ways. I grew up with her music and her movies, like BEACHES, FOR THE BOYS, FIRST WIVES CLUB, HOCUS POCUS, and OLIVER AND COMPANY. Yes – she voiced the spoiled poodle in the Disney movie of OLIVER AND COMPANY and sang a killer song. So when Kent asked me to be a part of a QHP show around Bette Midler, I was in. There’s one thing that I learned from watching her and admiring her. She was a force of nature. And loud. And I LOVED her. She wasn’t a dime-a-dozen ingénue. She was definitely no Shirley Jones, but that’s what I loved about her and made me fly to her like a magnet. She taught me that you can be brassy, hilarious, big-mouthed, sexy, loud, and vulnerable all at the same time. She transcends type. Heck, she is her own type. She’s Bette.


Barry Manilow – that’s another story. Honestly, I didn’t know Barry Manilow that well. I just knew that it was lame to like his music. So when I found out my husband is a bona fide “fanilow,” I was taken aback. Surely Barry’s music can’t be that bad if my husband, whose tastes I don’t always agree with but do respect, can have a deep passion and affinity for this man. So I had a pep talk with myself, reminding me that I always enjoy working on something new, delving into an artist’s work I don’t know. Now, I have not been changed into a fanilow, but I do understand why people love him and his music. His sound is infectious. Not only are most of his songs infectious and demand swaying of the upper body to be had by all (even if they do kind of all sound the same at times…), but his tone is perfect. He has this beautiful sound that just makes you smile as it soars into the stratosphere, making it seem that all is ok with the world.

We are in no way trying to imitate or put on characters of these famous divas, for that would be impossible and wouldn’t do them justice. Working at Quality Hill gives me the opportunity to not just celebrate their music, but also put my own stamp on their well-known hits. We celebrate who they are and the music they have brought into the world with the sophisticated touch that only Quality Hill Playhouse can bring to life.