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Laura Benanti Will Be the Featured Performer at the TUTS Gala

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Tony Award winning (and frequent TV) actress Laura Benanti will be the headliner at this spring's Theatre Under the Stars "Broadway Empire" Gala at the Hobby Center.

And while Benanti may be most recognizable to a lot of people for her recurring role on Nurse Jackie, last December's live version (with Carrie Underwood) of The Sound of Music and episodes of Law and Order:SVU, she's bringing her own special brand of music and comedy to Houston in late April in a version of the show (In constant Search of the Right Kind of Attention) she's used to crisscross the country.

Benanti, who won a Tony Award in 2008 for her work in Gypsy opposite Patti Lupone, weaves her favorite Broadway music with personal anecdotes about her life and career.

Here she is at the Lincoln Center a couple years ago. Get to the singing part;it's worth it.

"I've been doing this show a lot which is really fun for me. I really like the experience of being myself with an audience, talking to them and telling jokes and then I become the character while I'm singing the songs. So it's sort of everything that I love to do in one.

TUTS will be transforming the Hobby into a Prohibition-era speakeasy. The attire is black tie and the $1,000-a-ticket event uses the money it raises to benefit its education and community engagement programs, including the Humphreys School of Musical Theatre, The River Performing and Visual Arts Center and off site programming for children in schools and hospitals.

TUTS also presents the Tommy Tune Awards which showcase some of the best examples of musical theater in Houston area high schools.

Asked about her favorite singers, Benanti, who grew up in New Jersey taking voice lessons from her mother, named Rosemary Clooney, Ella Fitzgerald and Joe Williams -- "all of the sort of the greatest generation 1940s. I tend to listen to those because it's just so beautiful."

"It's not stuffy. I want people to feel like we've walked into my living room and we're all having a chat and I'm singing songs It feels very relaxed. I just want it to be fun, not a serious affair," Benanti promised.

For tickets or information contact Ashly Alberto at ashly@TUTS.com, call 713-558-2656 or visit TUTS.com/Gala.

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