As Laura Benanti prepares to take on a dream role -- Eliza Doolittle in the current Broadway production of My Fair Lady (Oct. 23-Feb. 17) -- she visited the Billboard on Broadway podcast to chat about why now is the perfect time for her to play one of Broadway's most iconic and groundbreaking roles.
"I love a transformation," says Benanti of playing Eliza, the London flower girl taken in by the arrogant professor Henry Higgins, who bets he can abolish her Cockney accent and turn her into his idea of a "lady." "In so many old-fashioned musicals, it's a pretty stagnant journey for the leading lady. But what's so thrilling to me about so many of the roles I've gotten to play, they start one place and end up somewhere else entirely, and though they're in relationship to men, the journey is about them." In this production, the ending of the show in particular is "an ending for a #MeToo/Time's Up era."
Even among modern Broadway stars, whose careers now extend far beyond the stage, Benanti's career thus far has been a particularly multi-faceted one. A Tony winner who's considered one of musical theater's foremost actresses, Benanti has led major musicals like Gypsy, Into the Woods and She Loves Me; successfully jumped to television with roles on Supergirl, Nashville, The Detour and Younger; and gained unexpected fame most recently for her appearances playing Melania Trump on Late Night with Stephen Colbert. Amidst all this, Benanti has also emerged on social media and beyond as one of the most prominent voices in the already politically-engaged Broadway community.