DIVA TALK: Catching Up With Gypsy Tony Winner Laura Benanti

By Andrew Gans
10 May 2013

Benanti and Steven Pasquale at opening night of The Big Knife.
Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Question: Any parts for you in there?
Benanti: No, I think Kelli O’Hara’s got it covered! [Laughs.]

Question: Have you seen Pippin yet? I remember when you did the concert version of that show, and you were great.
Benanti: I haven’t seen it yet. I really, really want to. I’m very excited.

Question: Do you have any stage projects in the works, or do you have to wait until you hear about the sitcom?
Benanti: I have to wait until I hear, which is, you know, a bummer, but it’s ok.

Question: And, since it’s Tony time, I wonder what is your memory of winning the Tony for Gypsy?
Benanti: Oh gosh, it was one of the greatest moments of my life. It felt like the culmination of all the hard work and energy, and hoping, and praying, and wishing that I had put into this craft since I was a little girl. And to be recognized by my peers and people I admire so much in that way, it was extraordinary. My family was there, and Steve was there, so it was a perfect evening.

Question: Are you still in touch with Patti [LuPone] or Boyd [Gaines]?
Benanti: Yes, I just had lunch with Patti a couple days ago! She’s doing a voiceover in my show that’s very funny.

Question: How old were you when you started performing?
Benanti: My parents felt very strongly that I not become a professional performer; they wanted me to have a normal childhood. So when I was 13, I started doing community theatre. Then, when I was 16, I won the Rising Star Award at Paper Mill Playhouse, and I got my Equity card at Paper Mill when I was 17. And then I was 18 when I did The Sound of Music [on Broadway, succeeding Rebecca Luker], so professionally I didn’t start until I was 16 or 17.

Benanti and Matthew Perry on "Go On."
photo by Vivian Zink/NBC

Question: Are you happy that your parents made that decision, to allow you have a normal childhood?
Benanti: I think so. Those years were so creative for me. I was so full of creativity because I was the director and producer and star and writer in my own mind. I got to imagine what I wanted my life to be and put on shows in my backyard. I wasn’t a little, tiny grown-up coming to work everyday, eight shows a week — not to denigrate that because that is a choice that a lot of people make. But I’m glad that my parents allowed me to live a simpler, more innocent life than that.

Question: I know you mentioned Brigadoon, but are there any other classic roles you’d love to play?
Benanti: I mean, I’ve always wanted to play Eliza Dolittle, but we have to get on that because I’m not getting any younger [laughs]!

Question: I think that would be a great role for you.
Benanti: I’ve always wanted to play that role. You know, I’ve also always wanted to play Fosca in Passion since I was a kid, which is…weird. Very weird of me! And then other than that, I try not to plan my life too far in advance because the expectations always spoil the view.

[Tickets are priced $50-$60; 11 PM shows have a $35 cover. There is a $30 food/beverage minimum. 54 Below is located at 254 W. 54th Street. Tickets and additional information are available at 54Below.com.]

Well, that's all for now. Happy diva-watching! E-mail questions or comments to agans@playbill.com.