Laura Benanti is out of Into the Woods, but questions of how long she will be gone and what exactly has happened to the popular young star have no official answers. Rumors have circulated, naming a neck or back injury as the thing that knocked Broadway's Cinderella off her feet.
A production spokesperson confirmed Benanti was out, but could not say for how long or the exact reason for the absence.
Understudy Melissa Dye is expected to replace Benanti. Dye, who currently plays Rapunzel and has gone on for Benanti before, appeared on Broadway as Sandy in Grease! and played Christine in the Toronto company of The Phantom of the Opera. She also toured as Evelyn Nesbit in Ragtime.
Benanti was Tony-nominated for her role in Into the Woods, her second nomination. Her other credits include Swing!, The Sound of Music and Wonderful Town with Encores!. She is expected to play film actress Claudia Nardi in the upcoming Roundabout Theatre revival of Nine, a part known for the unusual love song, "Unusual Way."
Billed as a family show, Into the Woods twists popular fairy tales, infusing them with an adult sense of what happens after the "Happily Ever After." Jack's murder of the giant (of beanstalk fame) provokes the wrath of his giant wife, Cinderella's prince is a hopeless philanderer, the witch is not wicked but overprotective, and a slightly psychotic Little Red Riding Hood proudly wears the grey skin of the wolf she cut up from the inside out. The score is one of Sondheim's most popular, with the comic and manic "Into the Woods," "Agony" and "On the Steps of the Palace" contrasting with the dramatic and wondering "Children Will Listen" and "Giants in the Sky." Into the Woods also stars Vanessa Williams as the witch, Stephen DeRosa and Kelly O'Malley as the Baker and his Wife, Adam Wylie as Jack, Mary Louise Burke as Jack's Mother, Molly V. Ephraim as as Little Red Riding Hood, John McMartin as the Narrator and Mysterious Man, Gregg Edelman as Cinderella's Prince, Christopher Sieber as Rapunzel's Prince and Dye as Rapunzel.