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Laura Benanti is ready to be the leading lady on stage once again, as Lincoln Center Theater announced Thursday that the Tony Award-winning actress will star as Eliza Doolittle in the company’s current revival of Lerner & Loewe’s My Fair Lady.
Directed by Bartlett Sher, the production has been running at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre since March 15, with Lauren Ambrose as Eliza. Benanti begins performances Oct. 23 and will continue in a limited engagement through Feb. 17, 2019. Ambrose’s final performance will be Oct. 21; she is starring in M. Night Shyamalan’s upcoming Apple series.
“Eliza Doolittle has been my dream role for as long as I can remember, so I couldn”t be more excited to join this brilliant company,” said Benanti. “Working with Bart and getting to be part of this show is a dream come true.”
Benanti — who won a Tony in 2008 for Gypsy — joins a cast that includes Harry Hadden-Paton, Norbert Leo Butz, Rosemary Harris, Allan Corduner, Jordan Donica, Linda Mugleston and Clarke Thorell, among others.
Her last musical role on Broadway was in the 2016 revival of She Loves Me, for which she received her fifth Tony nomination. She has also starred in productions of Into the Woods, The Wedding Singer, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, Nine with Antonio Banderas, and most recently, Meteor Shower, with Amy Schumer and Keegan-Michael Key.
Aside from theater, Benanti has appeared on late-night television with her infamous Melania Trump impressions on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert. After Colbert asked the actress to portray the first lady, Benanti told THR that she mastered her impression — mimicking her pout and accent— while taking the train from Delaware to New York. “I was obsessively watching her speech,” she recalled. “I was sitting next to this gentleman who looked very disturbed because I kept zooming in on her mouth.”
During THR’s Tonys Actress Roundtable in 2016, Benanti expressed her passion for using her sense of humor in her work. “Humor is the lens through which I see the world, for better or for worse — it gets me in trouble a lot.”
Benanti’s television work also includes roles on Nurse Jackie, The Good Wife, Nashville, Supergirl and Younger; she will be a series regular on the upcoming season of Jason Jones and Samantha Bee’s TBS comedy The Detour.
Chief theater critic David Rooney wrote in his review of My Fair Lady for THR that the show was one of the “most entertaining musicals in history,” calling the revival “lavishly produced in elegant style.” The production was nominated for 10 Tony Awards this year, winning for best costume design of a musical.
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