Laura Benanti is now playing her dream role on Broadway. At the same time, the Tony winner (“Gypsy”) is also playing her toughest part ever.
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“It’s the most demanding part I think I’ll probably play,” said Benanti, now appearing as Eliza Doolittle in Lincoln Center Theater’s well-received revival of “My Fair Lady.” Over the last 20 years or so, Benanti has made no secret of the fact that she’s always thought of Eliza as her dream role.
Now that she’s in it, she’s loving it — but it’s hard work. “It’s like a play and an operetta, just vocally,” she said on the latest episode of Stagecraft, Variety‘s theater podcast. “But also you’re belting in the beginning. When you’re the cockney flower girl, it’s … a lot more guttural. And then all of a sudden when you become proper, it’s like, ‘She’s a soprano now!’ Your voice has to be really seamless. And then you have your two hardest scenes toward the end of this play. It requires a tremendous amount of energy.”
On Stagecraft, Benanti spoke in-depth about her interpretation of the character of Eliza — and also revealed the secret to her impersonation of Melania Trump, a role she’s reprised multiple times on “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert.”
“I think the only way to make it a truly enjoyable thing to watch, rather than making fun of her and being cruel to her, is to have her actually be one of us,” Benanti said, after crediting her writers as well as her hair and makeup team. “And by ‘one of us,’ I mean the people who feel like we’re reluctantly married to him and don’t want to be.”
New episodes of “Stagecraft” are available every Tuesday. Download and subscribe to “Stagecraft” on iTunes, Stitcher, or anywhere finer podcasts are dispensed. Find past episodes here and on Apple Podcasts.