BWW EXCLUSIVE: THE RECORD, Issue 4 - Laura Benanti
The Record: Issue 4
Laura Benanti recently starred as Carol-Lynne, the Mother Bunny, on NBC's THE PLAYBOY CLUB. Other television roles include her heralded portrayal of "Billie" on FX's controversial comedy STARVED, a recurring role on ABC's one hour dramedy ELI STONE, and her appearances as Michael Imperioli's wife on ABC's LIFE ON MARS and Alan Alda's wife on Showtime's THE BIG C.
Benanti recently starred in the Broadway production of WOMEN ON THE VERGE OF A NERVOUS BREAKDOWN for Lincoln Center, for which she won the Outer Critics and Drama Desk Awards for Best Supporting Actress in a Musical. Also for Lincoln Center, she receiced critical acclaim for last year's production of Sarah Ruhl's IN THE NEXT ROOM or THE VIBRATOR PLAY. Earlier that season Benanti also demonstrated her "breezy comic flair" in The Public Theater's production of Christopher Durang's WHY TORTURE IS WRONG AND THE PEOPLE WHO LOVE THEM. Benanti earned the 2008 Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards for her revelatory portrayal of "Gypsy Rose Lee" in GYPSY opposite Patti LuPone and directed by Arthur Laurents. Her other Broadway roles include her Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Award nominated performance of "Cinderella" in Stephen Sondheim's INTO THE WOODS, and her sultry Tony nominated turn in SWING! She also starred opposite Antonio Banderas as his muse in the celebrated revival of NINE. Benanti began her multifaceted career as Maria in THE SOUND OF MUSIC opposite Richard Chamberlain.
Other distinguished theater performances include "Perdita" in A WINTER'S TALE at the Williamstown Theater Festival opposite Kate Burton, "Anne" in A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC at the LA opera opposite Victor Garber, and "Eileen" in City Center Encores WONDERFUL TOWN opposite Donna Murphy. Benanti can be heard on a multitude of recordings, and debuted her solo show at the Kennedy Center in the spring of 2010. Benanti made her leap to the silver screen in 2005 in the film TAKE THE LEAD opposite her NINE costar Antonio Banderas as his love interest, and can also be seen in the independent films FALLING FOR GRACE and MESKADA, which debuted at the 2010 Tribeca Film Festival.
You recently did a cabaret show in Port Washington, NY. How would you describe one of your concerts? What can the fans expect?
I like to think that coming to one of my concerts is like stepping into my living room and hanging out with me while I sing and tell funny stories. I don't have a lot of "set banter" so a lot of the humor comes from the moment.
What does a concert like this allow you to do or say as a musician opposed to you as a stage and TV performer?
When I am on stage or on film I am a character. What I love about these shows is that I get to be myself. I am WAY sillier than the characters I usually play (except for Candela in WOTV).
What is the best part of putting together a concert like this? What's your favorite song to perform live?
The best part of putting together a show like this is getting to use my imagination, and getting to work with my dear friend Mary Mitchell Campbell who is my music director. My favorite songs are Mr. Tanner by Harry Chapin and a medley that Mary Mitchell and I put together.
What's your dream collaboration?
My dream collaboration would be getting to work with Julie Andrews.
How do you choose and arrange the songs you sing in each concert? What type of music do you listen to, and what are some of your inspirations?
I sing a lot of songs from shows I've done as well as songs that are meaningful to me and my family. Mary Mitchell does the arrangements. I listen to all kinds of music. From Barbara Cook and Rosemary Clooney to Death Cab for Cutie and Damien Rice.
You've sung some hilarious covers at past concerts. What goes into performing those?
I don't want to give anything away about the covers. I like people to experience that for themselves :)
You have a wide fan base from Broadway to television. How do bring them all together? Do you draw from your past experiences on Broadway?
I don't concentrate on bringing them together. I'm just myself and hope that everyone likes it. I'm a theater geek so I would imagine my show is most interesting to fellow geeks.
You've performed a few original songs in past concerts. Can you tell us about those?
I haven't really played those songs in years. I got a really nasty review from a concert I did with Gavin Creel a few years back and I'm embarrassed to say it sent me into hiding. It's one thing to say something negative about my interpretation of someone else's song but I am too thin skinned to hear something so negative about songs I have poured my most private thoughts into. I think the first line was something like "attractiveness doesn't necessarily equal talent" or something like that. At least he said I was attractive ;)
Do you plan on writing more? What does your original music allow you to say and what do you hope people get from it?
I have been thinking about getting back to writing, perhaps with a collaborator, so it's very prescient that you should ask that. It's time to stop being scared and get back on the songwriting horse...so to speak...I promise that won't be a lyric.