Interview with Tony winner Laura Benanti
Laura Benanti recently received her fifth Tony nomination for her starring role as Amalia Balash in the Roundabout Theatre Company's acclaimed revival of the 1963 musical She Loves Meat Studio 54.
She won a Tony back in 2008 for her performance as Louise in 'Gypsy.' Her many Broadway credits include 'Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown,' 'Into the Woods,' 'Nine,' 'Swing!' and 'The Sound of Music.' Comic book fans will also recognise her as both Alura Zor-El and Astra, the main antagonist, of the "Supergirl" TV series, whilst country music fans will know her as Sadie Stone on "Nashville."
We caught up with Laura to talk about her similarities with the character of Amalia, how 'She Loves Me' relates to the modern day world, and, of course, vanilla ice cream...
Thomas Hayden Millward: Congratulations on your well-deserved Tony nomination, Laura! I’m so glad that the Roundabout Theatre Company decided to produce ‘She Loves Me’ this season. As a classic romantic musical comedy, there just isn’t another show like it on Broadway at the moment. Would you agree?
Laura Benanti: Yes, I do agree and I think it’s also a really fresh take on it. The audiences are really responding to the comedy and the romance. People really seem to just love it. It doesn’t feel pastiche. It doesn’t feel like a throwback. It feels really fresh and modern.
THM: Did you have any specific points of reference when you were preparing for the role of Amalia?
LB: Yeah I always try and bring myself and my own experiences into my roles. I think feeling like a woman in a man’s world is something I can relate to for sure, and also trying to find love in a world that can sometimes feel so cold. That’s the place I sort of came to her through.
THM: When I was watching you in the show, I kept thinking of online dating and all the challenges and blessings that brings in today’s world.
LB: Yes! That’s exactly it! I think it’s become even more relevant. I think this musical was really prescient and ahead of its time. People are really laughing and understanding it more than ever because of what we experience now.
THM: One thing that’s always stood the test of time is, of course, vanilla ice cream! Were you able to get much preparation in for the role, in terms of sampling as much ice cream as possible?
LB: Do you know what? I can’t actually even eat ice cream!
THM: Oh no! Are you lactose-intolerant? What a cruel irony!
LB: (Laughs) I know, right! I actually eat coconut milk ice cream in the show. But ice cream is delicious! It’s like happiness in a bowl.
THM: And so is the show! Happiness in Studio 54! Thank you so much for talking to me, Laura.
LB: It was so nice to meet you.