This DIY feather lamp from Betsy Wolfe completes her romantic dressing room
Within the contiguous United States, Betsy Wolfe couldn’t have grown up farther from Broadway—she grew up in a small farming town in Central California. But her parents introduced her to theater at an early age, often bringing her to see musicals in Los Angeles or San Francisco, and she was immediately drawn to the theatre. “I fell in love with this art form and set my sights on doing live theatrical performances,” she recalls. “Thank God I had a supportive family, and also some talent to support.”
Betsy earned a degree in Musical Theater from the University of Cincinnati Conservatory of Music and then began performing professionally. She has starred in San Francisco and Boston productions The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee She continued to Broadway, where her credits include Every day raptureAnd Lead over BroadwayAnd falsettosAnd Waitress. She has also dabbled in opera, television and films.
Now, Betsy plays the lead role of Anne Hathaway in and juliet, a new musical comedy that answers the question: “What if Juliet hadn’t died for Romeo?” It’s a bold revision of Shakespeare’s most famous play, featuring a playlist of iconic pop anthems and a gentle message about the beauty of second chances. The book is written by David West Reed Sheet CreekSo it’s also very funny,” says Betsy. “Not everything should work like a show, and yet it’s the most fun, happy time possible on Broadway right now.”
The show is currently playing at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre, and it’s where Betsy spends all her time when she’s not on the Upper West Side with her husband and their daughter. Her dressing room is basically her second home, but she didn’t want to recreate her primary abode. “I just wanted it to feel inviting and private when I walked in, and also unlike my home in a certain way, too,” she explains.
Since Betsy’s actual home is crisp and white, she opted for a moody Old Hollywood aesthetic when she began designing her dressing room last fall. Her interior designer, Crystal Sinclair, helped her achieve this dreamy retreat with bold floral wallpaper and vintage gems like a bubblegum pink velvet armchair. “I wanted to fill the space with meaningful artifacts, as a nod to the character I’m playing,” says Betsy. “I wanted it to feel Victorian romance, but also modern, just like our show with a modern twist.”
Although the two women were very intentional about getting dressing room decor, Betsy acquired what would become her favorite item by accident. She was picking up an antique hunter green velvet sofa she found on Craigslist when she spotted a gold lamp in the seller’s apartment, and, on a whim, asked if she could buy it, too. It was covered in metallic foil and immediately saw its potential to become something more dramatic.
The DIY project came together when Eric Strauss, Betsy’s stylist, suggested punching in the lamp with a shade made of ostrich feathers. “It all made sense to me,” she recalls. “It’s a tribute to the feather I took in the show to rewrite the story. So I went to a trimming shop and bought 10 of these beautiful peach ostrich feathers. Over the course of about four weeks, during rehearsals, we kept adding more and more until opening and then finished.”
Betsy loves a DIY lamp because it reminds her of an important time, right before and juliet opened. It’s her first show since giving birth and although it’s hard going back to work as a new mom, she felt strongly about accepting the role. “When I read that script, I was like, ‘Man, this is a story I’m going to be so proud to be able to tell my daughter about one day,’” she says. “I knew I had to do it.”
The lamp is also the only piece in her dressing room that was designed specifically for the space. “It’s really special,” she admits. “It really catches your eye when you walk in. And they sell these for thousands of dollars, so I also feel very lucky that I got Eric’s work. He really made it with me.” It was a double labor of love.