BWW Interview: Laura Benanti Talks Broadway, Motherhood, Younger TV, and More Ahead of Axelrod Performing Arts Center's 2019 Gala
The Axelrod's 2019 Gala will star Laura Benanti, who won her Tony Award for her performance as Gypsy Rose Lee in the 2008 revival of Gypsy, starring Patti LuPone and directed by original book writer Arthur Laurents. A five-time Tony Award nominee, Benanti is a highly celebrated stage and screen actress, who recently ended her critically acclaimed run on Broadway as Eliza Doolittle in Lincoln Center's revival of My Fair Lady. Her Broadway credits include Steve Martin's Meteor Shower, Amalia Balash in She Loves Me (Tony and Drama Desk Award nominee), Gypsy Rose Lee in Gypsy opposite Patti LuPone (Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards), In the Next Room or The Vibrator Play, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (Tony nomination, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards winner), Into the Woods (Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle nominations), The Wedding Singer, and Nine (starring Antonio Banderas). Other distinguished theater performances include Perdita in The Winter's Tale at the Williamstown Theater Festival, Anne in A Little Night Music at the L.A. Opera, and Eileen in Wonderful Town and Rosabella in The Most Happy Fella, both for City Center Encores! Her television credits include recurring and guest appearances on Younger, The Detour, Supergirl, Law & Order: SVU, Nashville, The Good Wife, Elementary, Nurse Jackie, The Big C, NBC's The Sound of Music Live and as First Lady Melania Trump on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.
Broadwayworld.com had the incredible opportunity to interview Laura Benanti before the gala.
Was there a specific moment you knew you wanted to be a performer?
Honestly there was never a moment where I didn't know what I wanted to do with my life. I've been extraordinarily lucky in that way. Both to have a dream at such a young age and then to achieve it.
What is your favorite part about performing before a live audience?
I love the freedom. The back and forth. I love the improvisational aspect of it and genuine connection.
You got your start at the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, NJ. How did performing there impact your career?
If it weren't for my relationship with Paper Mill I would never have made my Broadway debut as the understudy to Maria in The Sound of Music at the age of 18. I owe them my career!
We're excited to welcome you back to New Jersey! What can audience members expect from your upcoming concert at the Axelrod Gala? Can you tease any songs?
I will be singing songs from shows I have starred in (Sound of Music, My Fair Lady, She Loves Me, etc.) as well as songs I have always wanted to sing. It's a very relaxed evening. I want people to feel like we're just hanging out!
You're now a mom to 2-year-old Ella. How has she changed you as a performer and person?
She has crystallized what is important. And she actually makes me want to work even harder. She and my husband are the most important things in my life.
You've played a handful of incredible roles on Broadway including Louise in Gypsy, Amalia in She Loves Me, and most recently Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady. How do you approach each role differently, whether it is in a revival or original play/musical?
I approach each role as if it has never been played before and liken it to my own personal experience.
You won the Tony for Gypsy in 2008. Explain that whole experience.
It was remarkable! It was a moment I dreamed of since I was a very young child. I will forever be grateful.
You have a recurring role as Quinn Tyler on TV Land's Younger. How did it feel to work on that show?
It's a really fun character and fun group!
You've done it all - Broadway, television, concerts, etc. Is there anything else you would like to do in your career that you haven't done yet?
I'm currently shooting more movies, which feels really exciting!
And last but not least - just for fun - if there were a "Real Housewives of Broadway" type of reality show, which female Broadway stars would you want to star alongside of you?
To keep up with Laura, you can follow her on Instagram and Twitter @LauraBenanti or visit her website at http://laurabenanti.com/.
Tickets for the Axelrod Performing Arts Center's 2019 Gala can be purchased by calling 732-531-9106 ex.14 or by visiting the Axelrod Performing Arts Center website at https://www.axelrodartscenter.com. The gala will take place on October 19 at 8pm. The theatre is located at 100 Grant Avenue in Deal Park, NJ. For more information on Axelrod Performing Arts Center, you can follow them on Twitter and Instagram @axelrodarts or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/axelrodarts/.
Photo Credit: Jenny Anderson