Fresh Face: Laura Benantiby Paul Wontorek
Currently: Featured in Broadway's Swing!. Also recently won raves as sister Eileen to Donna Murphy in Encores! production of Wonderful Town.
Hometown: Kinnelon, New Jersey. "The population is like five," she says. "It's like the smallest town ever!".
Is It Genetic? Benanti comes from a musical family. Dad Martin Vidnovic is a Broadway veteran and mom is a music teacher.
School Days: "I always felt like an outcast in school . I'd be like sitting alone at lunch with like my Annie tape and everyone would be like, "Who's that freak?" You know what, though? I wouldn't trade that. Then I would have, but not now."
The First Big Thing: Benanti came to prominence when she replaced Rebecca Luker as Maria in The Sound of Music. She says that she couldn't be more different than Luker, Broadway's current Marian the librarian in The Music Man: "We are totally different. She's blonde and like so pretty and calm and I'm like this Italian spaz."
Reaction To The Offer To Play Maria: "Are you on crack? Me? I'm like, hello, so not Maria!"
The Sound Of Rave Reviews: Laura was terrified of critics re-reviewing the show after she took over opposite Richard Chamberlain. "I was worried they would be like, `Sound of Music now resembles a high school production because Laura sucks!' I didn't want to read them and then everyone said `You really should,' so I eventually did."
On Swing: "Revues get a bad name. They're good shows. People say, `there's no book,' but sometimes that's harder to do. You have that much less to work with. Everything you do is you. It's all about personality, which is so hard for me. I'm like, `Give me a book. Let me be someone else.'"
Staying Grounded: "Sometimes I'll get jaded and think, `I'm not going to that rehearsal' or whatever and I have to make myself stop and say, "You're 20 years old. And you're not working at Dennys.' Calm down!"
The Glamorous Life: Benanti says she always knew that she wanted to be an actress. "I knew that I wanted to live in a dressing room and literally have no life," she says, laughing. "I'm like the dorkiest 20-year-old I've ever met in my life. I don't go out. I don't party. I steam when I get home. I can't even eat cheese because I'll get phlegm. I'm a total freak and I love it!"