What could possibly be better than dancing on Broadway in Susan Stroman’s new musical, Bullets over Broadway? How about getting to dance next to your best friend! Beth Johnson Nicely and Amanda Kloots-Larsen are not only two of the luckiest showgirls on Broadway; they’re also two of the sweetest. During intermission, you’ll find them in their dressing room munching on decadent cupcakes and ooey-gooey chocolate chip cookies. But really, it’s just part of their job!
First, let’s rewind to when Beth and Amanda first met back in 2002 and the two leggy ladies got their “big breaks” together in the national tour of 42nd Street:
While visiting New York City to see the Broadway production of 42nd Street, Beth asked the star, Meredith Patterson, to sign her Playbill after the show and told her she, too, was a dancer. From that encounter, Beth scored a ticket to the show’s one-year anniversary party, got to mingle with the cast, and handed off her headshot and resume to the choreographer, Randy Skinner. A few days later she was called in to audition and landed a role not just as part of the ensemble, but also as the understudy for the lead, Peggy Sawyer!
Amanda came to NYC to study at AMDA (American Musical and Dramatic Academy), a two-year college conservatory for the performing arts. As a student there, she wasn’t allowed to audition until her last semester. Luckily, that’s just when 42nd Street was holding auditions! “I told myself I was going to book this job,” Amanda says. “I really practiced my tapping so I could nail the dancing audition. I remember doing rolling shuffles in my bathroom every night before bed until they were perfect.” Amanda booked the tour two days before her graduation from AMDA. Can you imagine a better graduation present?
Besides being dancers, Beth and Amanda have quite a lot in common. Both girls hail from Ohio—Beth from Columbus and Amanda from Canton. Since 42nd Street they’ve performed together in two Broadway shows, a national tour, and as Rockettes in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. They each met their husbands while dancing (Beth met her husband on the dance floor at a party and Amanda met hers while in the Broadway musical, Good Vibrations). When not performing, Beth and Amanda teach dance-cardio and strength-training classes at Body by Simone, a chic fitness boutique in Chelsea. And last but not least, they love sweets!
“In every city 42nd Street toured, Beth and I would go on a search for something sweet!” says Amanda. And those delicious adventures continued once the two girls returned to New York City. In 2007 Beth and Amanda founded http://www.JustDessertsNYC.com. “We started JustDessertsNYC,” says Beth, “because people kept asking us where to go for the best desserts in the city. We figured that our blog could be a resource for everyone.”
The dancing dessert duo—who also go by Blondie (blonde Amanda) and Brownie (brunette Beth)—posts almost daily about holidays treats, DIY recipes, latest crazes, and sweet spots to check out not only in New York City but across the US and abroad. And when it comes to sweets, no dessert is off-limits. JustDessertsNYC features donuts, custards, gelato, crepes, pies, milkshakes, shaved ice, and candies—just to name a few.
But with such a sweet tooth, how do Beth and Amanda stay in tip-top dancer shape? “Luckily dancing burns lots of calories,” says Amanda, “because our blog requires us to taste a lot of desserts!”
“Being in show business is a lot like being on a rollercoaster ride,” says Amanda. “There are so many ups and downs in your career.” “That’s why it’s important,” adds Beth, “to have a creative outlet on the side—something you’re passionate about that keeps you motivated.”
And, in fact, dealing with desserts is part of their “job” in Bullets over Broadway. Beth and Amanda bake Warner’s Edible Dog Biscuits. A character in the show, Warner, has an obsessive food fetish—so much so that he steals and eats the dog’s treats! But don’t worry; these edible props are tasty gingerbread-butterscotch cookies specifically for human consumption. Theatergoers will soon be able to purchase their own delectable dog biscuits after seeing Bullets over Broadway at the St. James Theater.
While Beth and Amanda don’t make any money off their blog right now, they have high hopes for the future of JustDessertsNYC. They’ve been featured in webisodes on Today.com, The Cooking Channel: Log On & Eat, and their own YouTube account, JustDessertsNYC. “We have had many TV appearances as dessert experts,” says Amanda. “Maybe one day we will have our very own TV show!”
For now, you can check out their blog posts and webisodes on http://www.JustDessertsNYC.com and catch “Blondie and Brownie” kicking up their heels (and baking dog biscuits) in the newest Broadway smash, Bullets over Broadway.