"The best part of being Cinderella is breaking the myth of Cinderella. Creating a real visceral character out of what can sometimes be a caricature and considered a more vapid person who goes along with whatever life brings her, instead of creating her own destiny. There's a woman in the hair department named Inga and her five-year old daughter Olivia who came to see the show. I was talking to her and she said she went into kindergarten the next day and said,'I met Cinderella and she is not blond,'" Benanti said. "That's exactly what I want."
Aside from the validation for her iconoclastic performance of a female archetype, Benanti enjoys Cinderella's quiet moments in the show. While her duet with her mother's spirit in the tree (a projection of Benanti voiced by her as well) makes her miss her own mother nightly, she really loves "No One Is Alone," a number shared with Stephen DeRosa's Baker.
"I think it's the message of the show, the heart of it, the little diamond. I feel so blessed to sing it every night," she said.
Benanti, still in her (very) early 20's, is up for her second Tony Award with Into the Woods. Her first nomination came as a featured actress in the big band song-and-dance revue, Swing!, in which she warbled classic tunes like "Skylark" and "Cry Me a River." But if Tony nominee Rebecca Luker hadn't already opened the 1998 revival of The Sound of Music, you can almost bet Benanti would have seen Tony gold for her portrayal of Maria, the convent-girl-turned-governess. She starred opposite Richard Chamberlin and held her own — at age 18! Is she spoilt by the universal praise for her work, including the two Tony nominations?
"No! No! Shhhh! I'm just learning how to enjoy this. I think the realisation of the first one is actually hitting me now, so this one will hit me in five years from now," she said. "At 22, you can't be spoiled or jaded. It's illegal!"