“MY FAIR LAURA”

Laura Benanti is wowing audiences nightly, channeling Eliza Doolittle in the revival of “My Fair Lady,” a role she’s longed to play for over 30 years. Laura is here for a candid conversation about her life on and off the stage.

For a look at how Benanti is helping others off stage, click here.

Aired on January 23, 2019. 

TRANSCRIPT

> ONE OF THE MOST BELOVED MUSICALS OF ALL TIME, 'MY FAIR LADY,' HAS RETURNED IN A LAVISH NEW PRODUCTION AT THE LINCOLN CENTER THEATER.

STARRING IS LAURA BENANTI WHO RECENTLY ASSUMED THE ROLE OF ELIZA DO LITTLE.

SHE'S WANTED TO PLAY THAT SINCE SHE WAS 4 YEARS OLD AND IT'S A DREAM FOR AUDIENCES WHO GET TO SEE HER GREAT PERFORMANCE ALSO.

TAKE A LOOK.

♪ ♪ THE RAIN IN SPAIN

BY GEORGE, SHE'S GOT IT.

BY GEORGE, SHE'S GOT IT.

NOW ONCE AGAIN, WHERE DOES IT RAIN?

♪ ON THE PLAINS, ON THE PLAINS ♪

WHERE IS THAT SONG PLAYED?

♪ IN SPAIN, IN SPAIN ♪ ♪ THE RAIN IS MAINLY IN THE PLAINS ♪

HERE AT 'METROFOCUS' I'M PLEASED TO SAY THAT WE HAVE GROWN ACCUSTOMED TO HER FACE AND IT'S A JOY TO WELCOME HER BACK.

SO NICE TO SEE YOU.

THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME.

I MENTIONED THE DREAM ROLE.

I KNOW YOU HAVE TALKED ABOUT THAT BEFORE.

YES.

BUT YOU HAVE HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO PLAY SO MANY DIFFERENT ROLES.

WHY WAS THIS ONE SO SPECIAL IN YOUR MIND?

WELL, FOR ME, BECAUSE I'M A SOPRANO AND I ALWAYS HAVE BEEN EVER SINCE I WAS A LITTLE GIRL, I HAD A HIGH VOICE.

YOU KNOW, THERE'S ONLY SO MANY ROLES THAT ARE VERY, VERY INTERESTING AND TAKE A HUGE JOURNEY WHEN YOU ARE A SOPRANO.

SO MANY OF THE BELTING ROLES ARE FUNNY AND A LOT OF TIMES WHEN YOU'RE A SOPRANO YOU'RE LIKE, THEN SHE SWOONS, A LOT OF THAT.

TO GO FROM THE COCKNEY, HARD EDGED ANGRY PERSON WHO WANTS TO CHANGE HER LIFE INTO AN -- IN OUR PRODUCTION ESPECIALLY A FULLY EMBODIED PERSON WITH A NEW SENSE OF SELF AND THE COURAGE TO GO LIVE A VERY DIFFERENT LIFE, IT'S VERY RARE AS AN ACTRESS TO GET TO DO SOMETHING LIKE THAT AND TO SING THESE CLASSIC SONGS IN THIS COLOR -- IN THE SOPRANO.

I'LL GET TO THE SONGS IN A MINUTE, BUT I WANT TO GET TO YOUR VERSION OF THIS.

IT'S A LITTLE DIFFERENT.

IT IS.

IF PEOPLE DON'T KNOW PYGMALION THE ORIGINAL -- IF THEY ONLY KNOW THE MOVIE FROM WHEREVER IT WAS A FEW YEARS AGO.

YEAH.

THEY WILL PROBABLY -- I DON'T WANT TO GIVE AWAY ANYTHING, BUT WHY WILL THEY WALK AWAY THINKING, HUH, A LITTLE BIT DIFFERENT AND A LITTLE BIT MORE TIMELY.

YEAH, I THINK THEY WILL BE PLEASANTLY SURPRISED.

YOU KNOW, I THINK THAT SOMETIMES WHEN REVIVALS HAPPEN, PEOPLE FEEL LIKE OH IT'S CREAKY, IT'S NOT GOING TO BE OF THE TIME AND WHAT BART SHER OUR DIRECTOR HAS DONE SO GREAT, HE'S BROUGHT IT BACK TO THE SOURCE MATERIAL AND IF YOU DON'T KNOW PYGMALION IT'S A 'MY FAIR LADY' OF OUR TIMES OF THE GENERATION SO WE DON'T HAVE A WOMAN WHO IS TREATED BADLY FOR ESSENTIALLY THE ENTIRE THREE HOURS THAT YOU'RE THERE.

WHO THEN JUST SETTLES FOR THAT.

SHE'S NOT SETTLING FOR THAT.

SHE'S GROWN INTO A FULLY FORMED WOMAN AND SHE'S TAKING THE WORLD ON.

YOU TALK ABOUT THE VARIOUS SONGS THAT ARE IN HERE AND I COULD HAVE DANCED ALL NIGHT.

THE ICONIC SONG.

♪ I COULD HAVE DANCED ALL NIGHT I COULD HAVE DANCED ALL NIGHT ♪

I WILL SAY AS AN UNABASHED FAN OF YOUR WORK BEFORE, ALL THE VARIATIONS I HAVE NEVER SEEN THAT SONG DONE BETTER THAN WHAT YOU DO.

THANK YOU.

OUR AUDIENCE WAS ON THEIR FEET.

OH, THANK YOU.

WHEN THEY DID IT.

SO HERE'S MY QUESTION.

DO YOU REMEMBER WHEN AROUND AS A YOUNG CHILD WAS THE FIRST TIME YOU EVER TRIED TO SING THAT SONG?

4.

YOU WERE?

YEAH, MY MOM HAD THE RECORD.

AND SHE WOULD PLAY IT FOR ME.

SHE WOULD READ ME THE INSERT.

AND I REMEMBER SINGING ALONG.

YEAH.

I WASN'T EVEN 5 BECAUSE I WASN'T IN KINDERGARTEN.

WHEN YOU GOT ON THE STAGE FOR THE FIRST TIME WHEN YOU DID THIS, ALL OF A SUDDEN YOU'RE SINGING, IS THERE A PART OF YOU SAYING THIS IS PRETTY COOL?

I'M --

LITERALLY CRYING.

MY MOTHER WAS THERE.

MY HUSBAND AND MY DAD WERE THERE.

MY BEST FRIENDS WERE THERE.

I JUST STARTED BAWLING.

I HAVE ALWAYS BEEN GRATEFUL HAVING MY DAUGHTER, HAVING MY HUSBAND.

AND BEING ABLE TO PLAY THIS PART FOR IT TO COME BACK AROUND AND TO BE ABLE TO DO IT.

I'M SO OVERWHELMED BY IT.

I LOVE IT SO MUCH.

AN INTERESTING THING YOU MENTIONED, YOUR DAUGHTER, ELLA, SHE WAS WITH US OUTSIDE TODAY.

HI, ELLA.

JUST DELIGHTFUL, LOVELY YOUNG GIRL.

SHE IS.

AND YOU HAVE TALKED BEFORE ABOUT, YOU KNOW, WHEN YOU'RE PRACTICING AT HOME AND SINGING AND SHE'S SORT OF -- YOU KNOW, IS LEADING YOU ALONG, GIVING YOU OKAY, NOT OKAYS.

YOU PUT TOGETHER THIS LOVELY LITTLE VIDEO OF HER DIRECTING YOU.

YES.

IN A REHEARSAL.

YES.

SHE COMES WALKING IN AND SHE'S GOT GLASSES ON, A PHONE IN HER HAND.

I WAS THINKING, I THINK ELLA IS ALMOST 2.

SHE WILL BE 2 ON VALENTINE'S DAY AND SHE'S A BABY CEO.

SHE WAS BORN THAT WAY.

SHE CAME OUT LIKE FRUSTRATED ABOUT BEING A BABY.

WHAT'S GOING ON, WHY DO I HAVE TO BE CARRIED EVERYWHERE?

AND THEN THE MINUTE SHE COULD SIT, THE MINUTE SHE COULD CRAWL WHICH SHE WAS CRAWLING AT 6 MONTHS, WALKING AT 10 MONTHS.

SHE WANTS TO GET GOING.

I WAS THAT WAY, MY HUSBAND WAS THAT WAY AND NOW SHE'S TALKING IN FULL SENTENCES.

SHE'S NOT EVEN 2.

I WAS LISTENING TO HER TALK BEFORE.

I ASKED HER HOW OLD AND I THOUGHT SHE WAS 3 BUT SHE'S NOT EVEN 2.

YEAH.

I OFTEN REFER TO A QUOTE THAT TEDDY ROOSEVELT WAS ASKED IF YOU DON'T HAVE PARTICULAR SKILLS AND HE SAID YOU DO WHATEVER YOU CAN WITH WHATEVER YOU HAVE, WHEREVER YOU ARE.

YOU AND A COUPLE OF FRIENDS DID THAT.

PUTTING TOGETHER A DELIGHTFUL WORK OF MUSIC THAT HAD REAL MEANING FOR YOU.

SINGING YOU HOME.

TELL ME ABOUT THAT.

SINGING YOU HOME IS CHILDREN'S SONGS FOR FAMILY REUNIFICATION AND ALL OF THE MONEY GOES TO A ORGANIZATION THAT GOES TO THOSE FAMILIES SEPARATED AT THE BORDER.

AND THEY'RE A WONDERFUL ORGANIZATION.

THEN ASTEP, ARTISTS STRIVING TO END POVERTY THEY'RE WORKING WITH THE CHILDREN HERE WHO ARE UNACCOMPANIED MINORS IN NEW YORK CITY STILL.

ALL ARE SING IN -- SUNG IN ENGLISH AND SPANISH.

AND EVERYBODY DONATED 100% OF THEIR TIME.

EVEN THE RECORD LABEL GAVE US THE STUDIO FOR FREE.

THE MUSIC ON IT IS FABULOUS.

THANK YOU.

AND SPEAKING OF FABULOUS, AS I SAID THIS IS YOUR DREAM ROLE AND YOU LET THE REST OF US SHARE.

I HAVE NEVER SEEN ANYBODY BETTER.

THANK YOU.

LAURA, SO NICE TO HAVE YOU HERE AND TO GET TO CHAT WITH ELLA BEFORE HAND.

YOU BE WELL.

THANK YOU SO MUCH.

A REMINDER OUT THERE, THE AWARD PRODUCTION OF 'MY FAIR LADY' NOW PLAYING AT THE LINCOLN CENTER THEATER AT THE VIVIAN BEAUMONT.

FOR MORE INFORMATION GO TO METRO FOCUS.ORG.

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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