Mark Cortale Presents: Laura Benanti, Tony Award winner for Gypsy and 5x Tony nominated Broadway star of She Loves Me, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, Into The Woods, and Swing in a live concert alongside her mother, actress & singer on & off Broadway, Linda Benanti, with Seth Rudetsky, this Sunday, May 16 at 3pm with a rebroadcast at 8pm.
It was a pleasure to sit down with Laura Benanti for this exclusive Hotspots interview:
Were you always a performer even as a child, or when did it begin?
My parents would not allow me to be a child performer. And I’m very grateful for that now.
What was your first professional role?
My first professional job was at the Papermill Playhouse in New Jersey when I was 16 years old. I had won their very first rising star award for my portrayal of Dolly Levi in Hello Dolly! (which I sang up the octave!) After that they cast me in Man of La Mancha as Antonia, the niece to Don Quixote. They also recommended me for the audition for my Broadway debut.
When did you know entertaining would be your career?
I always knew that I wanted to be an artist. I don’t remember a time where I considered anything else; other than a brief moment where I wanted to be an organic farmer. It only took a summer working at a farmers’ market and shoveling manure to put an end to that dream!
I know it was 2008, but do you remember how you felt when they called your name as the winner of the Tony Award for Best Featured Actress?
My dream as a young person was never to be famous. It was to be an actor on Broadway. When they called my name, everything moved at hyper speed and slow motion at the same time. It’s almost indescribable. Very few people get to experience the thing they have dreamed about their entire life, and I’m so grateful that I got to experience mine.
What has been your favorite role so far?
I’ve had a great honor to play so many iconic roles. From my first role on Broadway as Maria in the Sound of Music, to Claudia in Nine. Cinderella in Into the Woods, Louise in Gypsy, Amalia in She Loves Me and Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady. They are all special to me in different ways. They’re like friends and I miss them.
What is your fantasy role?
My dream is to one day play Desiree Armfeldt in A Little Night Music with my mother playing Madame Armfeldt and my daughter playing my daughter!
You have done television, films, and theater. Is there one you like better than the others and why?
I feel so grateful to be able to travel in all of these mediums. I’ve worked really hard to be able to do so, and while I truly enjoy them all theater will always be my home!
Describe yourself in three words?
Silly, caring, driven.
What do you do for fun?
Hang out with my husband, our four-year-old daughter and our families and friends!
How did you meet Seth?
We met through the iconic Julia Murney over 20 years ago.
What have you been doing during the pandemic?
I’ve actually been crazy busy during the pandemic! On Friday, March 13 of last year, when we first went into lockdown, I created a social media campaign called #SunshineSongs. It came out of the concern for all the young people who would be missing their spring shows. I remember how important that time was for me and my heart broke for them. Especially the seniors. I posted on Instagram and Twitter saying I knew it wasn’t the same as performing in front of their communities but if they wanted to perform for me, I wanted to see them. I thought I would receive maybe 20 videos, and instead I received thousands and thousands. That grew into a Sunshine Concert series for isolated senior citizens and hospitalized children. And from there it became what is now a documentary on HBOmax titled Homeschool Musical: Class of 2020. It features seven diverse graduated high school seniors from the class of 2020 in virtual interviews and musical performances that they filmed with the help of their friends and family as we guided them. I’m really proud of it and them. I also released my first self-titled studio album. The first single off my album, a cover of the Jonas brother’s song Sucker, was released last year with all the proceeds going to the organization FoodCorps. I recently released my latest single, a cover of the Burt Bacharach song Wives and Lovers, with an accompanying music video in partnership with BirthQueen, a new and vital organization founded by Rachel Nicks that is working to end the Black maternal healthcare crisis. Additionally, I filmed the final season of Younger as the controversial Quinn Tyler. I’m currently filming the reboot of Gossip Girl on HBO max as well as another TV show that hasn’t been announced yet. I also cowrote and released a comedic book for moms with my friend Kate Mangiameli titled “M is for Mama and Also Merlot: A modern Mom’s ABC’s.”
What should our readers expect from your Virtual performance in the Broadway Series?
They should expect a lot of laughter, stories, angelic singing from my mother and probably some tears of joy as I watch her step into her full glory after 35 years of being off the stage.
For more information or to purchase tickets, go to: https://thesethconcertseries.com/
Once you see the concert and love it, you can next see Laura Benanti perform live on-stage with Seth Rudetsky at The Parker Playhouse in Fort Lauderdale, FL on March 26, 2022 at 8pm! For tickets and information, please visit: https://www.browardcenter.org/events/detail/laura-benanit-with-seth-rudetsky-2022