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Laura Benanti is a Tony Award-winning actress. She was born Laura Ilene Vidnovic on July 15, 1979 in New York City. She moved to Kinnelon, New Jersey, as a child and took the name of her stepfather, Salvatore Benanti, after her parents divorced. After doing a series of amateur musical theatre performances in Evita, Follies, Into the Woods, and Hello, Dolly!, she graduated from Kinnelon High School in 1997.
Her breakthrough theatrical performance came in March 1999 as she was promoted from understudy to star as Maria in the 1998 revival of The Sound of Music. This would be the start of an illustrious Broadway career, which saw her join the cast of Swing! in 1999 and then take on the roles of Cinderella in the 2002 revival of Into the Woods, Claudia in the 2003 revival of Nine, and Julia in the 2006 Broadway premiere of The Wedding Singer. She had already received Tony nominations for her appearances in Swing! and Into the Woods; however, it wasn’t until 2008 that she finally took home her first Tony Award for her performance as Louise in the 2008 revival of Gypsy, which starred Patti LuPone as Mama Rose.
In 2009, she starred in her first non-musical Broadway production. She took on the role of Mrs. Givings in Sarah Ruhl’s comedy In the Next Room (or The Vibrator Play). She returned to her musical roots in the 2010 Broadway premiere of Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, winning a Drama Desk Award and earning another Tony nomination for her performance as Candela. After a hiatus of more than five years, she finally came back to Broadway to take on the lead role of Amalia Balash in the Roundabout Theatre Company’s acclaimed 2016 revival of She Loves Me, earning her fifth Tony nomination. She returned to Broadway to star opposite Amy Schumer in Steve Martin's absurdist comedy Meteor Shower from November 1, 2017 through January 21, 2018. She then assumed the leading role of Eliza Doolittle in Lincoln Center Theater's acclaimed revival of the classic Lerner & Loewe musical My Fair Lady on October 23, 2018, and was initially scheduled to play a limited engagement through February 17, which was then extended through July 7, 2019.
Aside from her career on stage, Benanti has also been a regular on the small screen, with recurring roles in hit TV series such as Go On, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Nurse Jackie, Nashville, The Detour, and DC Comics’s Supergirl. In 2013, she also took on the role of Baroness Elsa Schräder in NBC’s The Sound of Music Live!