It is safe to say that Laura Benanti is easily one of the most recognizable names and faces on Broadway. Laura first made her stage debut at age 18 as Maria in The Sound of Music, opposite Richard Chamberlain. Since her debut, Benanti has starred in the Broadway production of Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown for Lincoln Center; in Gypsy in the role as Gypsy Rose Lee, in which she won the Tony Award; and in Nine as Claudia. She is a Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle award-winning performer. She’s had recurring roles on TV’s Nashville, The Good Wife, and Nurse Jackie. She also starred in NBC’s The Sound of Music LIVE as Elsa Schrader. Then, in 2013, Benanti released her debut full-length album, In Constant Search of the Right Kind of Attention: Live at 54 BELOW via Broadway Records. For her next adventure, Benanti is ready to show the world her newest superpower as Alura Zor-El, Kara’s Kryptonian mother, in the new CBS series, Supergirl.
Cliché: You are one of the most notable names on Broadway. Do you still feel nervous before each show?
Laura Benanti: First of all, thank you. Secondly, yes. I have come to understand that nervous and excited are just different sides of the same coin, and I try to feel the positive effects of my “nerves” instead of dwelling on the fear. Meditation has helped me tremendously with that.
Is it true that you will be playing Amalia in the 2016 revival of She Loves Me?
It’s true! I will be co-starring with Zachary Levi, Gavin Creel, and Jane Krakowski in the Roundabout Theater’s production.
What do you love most about being on Broadway and the stage?
Communicating with the audience. There is nothing like hearing the audience gasp, laugh, cry, and applaud!
Soon you will be switching hats and moving to TV to play Alura Zor-El in the new Supergirl show. How will you juggle both mediums of entertainment?
I can really only do one at a time, unless the TV show shoots in NYC (which Supergirl does not). I’m shooting Supergirl now, and will stop in the new year to begin rehearsals for She Loves Me.
What has been the hardest part for you in making the transition from stage to TV?
Oddly, I get MORE nervous in front of the camera than I do in front of an audience. Relaxation in front of the camera, dropping into my body completely, are the most difficult things for me. “Being natural” and not seeming like you are acting is really hard.
Did you read any of the Supergirl comics in preparation for the role?
I had never read comic books before preparing for this role. Now I love them! I have only read a few, but I think they are great fun.
What drew you to the role, and do you relate to your character in any way?
I worked with Greg Berlanti on a show called Eli Stone many years ago, and I like him very much. When he called me and offered me the job, I was thrilled at the opportunity to work with him again. The main thing that drew me to the role is a spoiler… so I can’t tell you. You’ll have to watch!
What other projects, stage or otherwise, are you working on right now?
Aside from getting ready to star in She Loves Me, I am writing a book and doing concerts all around the country. I’m also writing and directing some fun web videos.
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Laura Benanti Interview: Photograph courtesy of Getty