“MY FAIR LAURA”

January 24, 2019 at 5:00 am

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 Print

>> 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.

Mutual of America PSEG

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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