Meeting Laura Benanti today, you’d never know she has such a bold and incisive understanding of fashion. The reason being, the actress is on vocal rest and is instructed to let out no more than a whisper.
The “Supergirl” actress is back on center stage — she’s been in nine Broadway productions — for the revival of the musical “She Loves Me,” costarring Jane Krakowski and Zachary Levi. The show, opening Thursday, centers on Amalia, played by Benanti, and Georg, Levi’s character, two parfumerie clerks who spar at work but are unwittingly anonymous pen pals, penning love letters and falling for one another.
Benanti invited us to her apartment for a fitting ahead of Thursday’s opening night. She and stylist Scott Allgauer chose (wisely) a chic Mugler look. We corresponded with the actress via e-mail to get her take on fashion, “Supergirl,” and blind dates:
WWD: So you’re on vocal rest at the moment. That sounds difficult from a pragmatic, day-to-day standpoint. Do you have any remedies you use to keep your voice in tip-top shape?
Laura Benanti: The vocal demands of this particular role are very challenging. The score is beautiful but it really sings like an operetta. Not being able to talk definitely makes life tricky! I drink ginger tea, and try not to eat dairy, alcohol, caffeine or spicy foods. Keeping healthy on this schedule can be tricky.
WWD: The musical really resonates today but it occurred to me while watching it that the concept of a “blind date” is gone in this day and age. Have you ever been on a blind date?
L.B.: No, I’ve never been on a blind date, thank goodness. But I have friends who have done online dating, which is essentially what this show is about, but with letters.
WWD: What is it like working with Zachary Levi and Jane Krakowski?
L.B.: Zachary is such a loving, upbeat person. He’s extremely funny and charming. This is only his second Broadway show and I’m so impressed with how he’s taken to it. He’s amazing. Jane is incredibly talented and hard-working. She has an incredible attention to details and commitment to figuring out every little moment.
WWD: The shows’ costumes are beautiful.
L.B.: They really are. Jeff Mahshie created our costumes. He’s so brilliant and collaborative. He wanted to create pieces that work for the period but that people would really want to wear in real life. Jeff was actually one of the first designers to lend me clothes for Broadway events. It can be really tricky to get designers to lend you clothes for Broadway events and openings. That is one of the reasons why Scott, my stylist, is so passionate about bringing fashion to the Broadway red carpet. It becomes a little bit of a perpetuating cycle. If there’s no fashion on a carpet, no one will cover it, and if no one will cover it there will be no fashion.
WWD: What did you and Scott ultimately decide to wear to the opening?
L.B.: Mugler. I’m so grateful to them for being so amazing about lending me their gorgeous clothes. I cannot wait to wear them.
WWD: How would you describe your personal style off-stage?
L.B.: Relaxed, for sure. I’m a big Rag & Bone fan; Theory, Novis, Chloé, Elizabeth and James, Parker, Vince, Tibi, Rebecca Taylor — the list goes on and on!
WWD: The show is a period piece and you just played a sort of sci-fi role on “Supergirl.” How was it to switch gears?
L.B.: It was fun. Alura, my “Supergirl” character, is the mother of Supergirl, who we see in flashback and hologram but playing Astra, Supergirl’s evil aunt was even more fun. I loved working on that show. I feel very lucky that I get to go back and forth between Broadway and television. It’s really the best of both worlds.