Laura Benanti has been performing on Broadway since the 1998 Revival of The Sound of Music, where she was a nun and the understudy for Maria. She got to play the coveted lead role for two weeks when Rebecca Luker was on vacation and garnered very positive notices. She went on to be in the Broadway revue Swing! in 1999, the Broadway revival of Into the Woods in 2002, the Broadway revival of Nine in 2003, and the original Broadway cast of The Wedding Singer. She took on the role of Louise in the New York City Center Encores! three-week limited run of Gypsy, which transferred to Broadway in 2008. She also won her first Tony Award for the role. Benanti recently appeared in the new musical Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown in 2010, and in April 2014 she'll star as Rosabella in the New York City Center Encores! production of The Most Happy Fellow. In the meantime, she is releasing her first solo album In Constant Search of the Right Kind of Attention - Live at 54 BELOW, which is both lovely and engrossing.
Benanti says her obsession with musical theater began because she never heard a voice like hers on the radio as a child. Her earthy soprano is a true delight. She masterfully handles show numbers such as Jerome Kern and Johnny Mercer's glitzy "I'm Old Fashioned," Todd Almond's perky arrangement of Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe's "On the Street Where You Live" rewritten as "On the Street Where I Lived" for this album, Almond's stirring and evocative "Tilly's Aria/Frank and Tilly Make Love" (which he also duets with her on), Lerner and Loewe's cheerful "I'm Glad I'm Not Young Anymore" (which features Almond skillfully playing the accordion), and her performance of Maury Yeston's "Unusual Way."
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Her original compositions include Benanti's self-deprecating and humorous "The Ukulele Song". She explains she wrote "New Mexico" as a young girl, and the Almond arrangement of the song is sweetly heartwarming. Moreover, her spirited rendition of Harry Chapin's "Mr. Tanner" is an inspiring take. Benanti gives knowing winks and nods to Top 40 icons as she slyly impersonates them when singing Lana Del Rey's sumptuous "Video Games" (as a mash up with Johnny Lattiner and Elena Goulding's "Starry Eyed") and Joni Mitchell's spirited "He Comes for Conversation." Broadway Records released Laura Benanti's In Constant Search of the Right Kind of Attention - Live at 54 BELOW digitally on September 6. The CD was released on September 10. The album can be purchased from iTunes, Amazon, and elsewhere music is sold.