Laura Benanti

Laura Benanti Headshot

Actress • Singer

Birth Date: July 15, 1979

Age: 44 years old

Birth Place: New York, New York

With her grace, confidence, and innate love for theater, Laura Benanti was destined to be a star. She started making waves on Broadway, earning a slew of accolades for her electric performance as an awkward young woman-turned-sexy siren in the 2007 Broadway revival of "Gypsy."

While Benanti's passion for the stage was at her core, she also carved inroads on television and in film. She had a lead part on the short-lived comedy series "Starved" (FX, 2005) and played Antonio Banderas' lovelorn assistant in the musical feature "Take the Lead" (2006). Benanti also appeared on the dramedy series "Eli Stone" (ABC, 2008-09), about an attorney who suffers through surreal visions.

In 2011, the spotlight was finally cast upon Benanti after she landed the lead role on the drama series "The Playboy Club" (NBC 2011), about the original Chicago nightclub in the early 1960s. Although the series was short-lived, Benanti quickly rallied with co-starring roles in the sitcom "Go On" (NBC 2012-13), "Nashville" (ABC/CMT 2012- ), and "Supergirl" (CBS/CW 2015- ).

Laura Benanti was born on July 15, 1979 in Kinnelon, NJ and raised in New York City. Her parents were both actors; her father, Martin Vidnovic, performed on Broadway, as did her mother, Linda Wonneberger. After her parents divorced, she moved in with her mother and psychotherapist stepfather, Salvatore Benanti.

Given her parents' background, it was no surprise that Benanti herself was drawn to musical theater. After graduating from high school in 1997, Benanti set her sights on Broadway. At age 19, she auditioned for the part of Liesl in the Broadway revival of the classic 1959 musical "The Sound of Music," but was cast instead as a nun. A year later, Benanti took over the lead role of Maria in the production, playing opposite Richard Chamberlain.

It was not long before her talents earned her critical acclaim. She received two Tony Award nominations for Best Featured Actress in a Musical; first, in 2000 for her performance in "Swing!" (1999), followed by 2002 for that year's revival of "Into the Woods."

Benanti's Tony nod her role in "Into the Woods" was bittersweet for the actress, who fractured her neck doing a pratfall on stage. As a result of a misdiagnosis and of reportedly being asked by producers to stay mum about her injury, she tried to keep up her performances but began missing shows due to severe pain. After enduring criticism that she was a "faker," she was eventually let go, and her role given to another actress.

Benanti underwent spinal surgery for her injury and by early 2003, she was back on Broadway in a revival of "Nine" as a sultry movie star who inspired Antonio Banderas' womanizing character. In 2008, Benanti earned much-deserved praise and a Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical for her performance in the 2007 Broadway revival of "Gypsy," in which she portrayed the gawky and neglected Louise, a young woman who transforms into the seductive stripper Gypsy Rose Lee.

Benanti also received glowing praise and another Tony nod for her role in the musical "Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown" (2010), based on the 1988 Academy Award-nominated film directed by Pedro Almodovar.

While Benanti impressed onstage, she also appeared in a number of mainstream television and film projects. She starred on the comedy series "Starved" as an aspiring singer with an eating disorder, and appeared opposite her "Nine" co-star Banderas in the drama feature "Take the Lead." In 2008, Benanti had a recurring role on the series "Eli Stone," about a thirty-something lawyer (Jonny Lee Miller) who starts having out-of-this-world visions that lead him to perform unusual actions.

She played Eli's college friend who is trying to raise an autistic child. In 2011, Benanti was cast in her first major television role on the highly anticipated drama series "The Playboy Club." She played a smart talking Bunny who is trying to assert her dominance over the club's younger starlets.

Before "The Playboy Club" premiered, some watchdog groups and network affiliates banned the show for its racy themes. In spite of the controversy, some of the show's stars spoke up against the criticism and defended the show's portrayal of headstrong, trailblazing women. The controversy did not translate to ratings, however, and the show was quietly canceled during its first season.

Benanti quickly rebounded with a supporting role in the Matthew Perry sitcom "Go On" (NBC 2012-13), followed by a story arc on medical comedy-drama "Royal Pains (USA 2009-2016). After co-starring as Elsa in "The Sound of Music Live!" (NBC 2013), Benanti joined the cast of "Nashville" (ABC/CMT 2012- ) as singing star Sadie Stone, followed by a supporting role on "Supergirl" (CBS/CW 2015- ) as Kryptonian Alura Zor-El.

Credits

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