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No Way to Stop It: Laura Benanti, Broadway's Queen of All Media, Hosts 2014 Drama Desk Awards on June 1

By Jon Sobel j.sobel@classicalite.com on May 22, 2014 06:16 PM EDT

Laura Benanti is everywhere these days--on stage, on television, in your local cabaret and on CD, and gearing up to host the 59th Drama Desk Awards on June 1. Known until recently primarily for her stage work, the Tony winner (for Gypsy) and Drama Desk awardee has earned much wider recognition over the past year through a series of prominent TV roles. Nurse Jackie, The Good Wife, Elementary and Law and Order: SVU have all welcomed Benanti, sometimes in surprisingly sinister roles.

On top of all those series appearances, she was a critical part of the most significant cross-pollination of live theater with television in recent memory, NBC's The Sound of Music Live!, a ratings juggernaut that has the networks salivating for more. Nearly 22 million people watched the original December 2013 broadcast, and after an encore showing NBC estimated that twice that many had now seen at least some part of the show.

Benanti, for one, didn't see it coming. "I thought, my mom'll watch and she'll like it, my grandma, she'll enjoy it," she told NBC New York. But she couldn't have been more pleased with the broadcast's success, and happy to have been part of "anything that brings musical theater or theater into people's homes." With so many people tuning in, "that to me says that people have a desire for that type of entertainment in their home."

Some viewers, at least, have a desire for more Laura Benanti in their homes. One fan set up a petition on change.org asking NBC to cast the actress in its second follow-up live broadcast, The Music Man, expected to air some time in 2015. Why? Commented one petition signer, "Because Laura Benanti is perfect and deserves to be in everything she wants to be in. Period."

In the meantime viewers can stream the Drama Desk Awards presentation June 1 on TheaterMania.com. The Drama Desks are the most democratic of the Big Apple's theater awards, honoring productions all over the city--Broadway, Off-Broadway, and Off-Off-Broadway. "I am thrilled," Benanti said of her hosting duties, "to bring my particular brand of idiocy to what is usually a very classy affair."

Her energetic personality also figures prominently on the CD recording of her cabaret act. In Constant Search of the Right Kind of Attention: Live At 54 BELOW came out last fall. To support the CD she's been taking her show far from the lights of Broadway to places like Orlando and Indianapolis.

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TagsThe Sound of Music, Laura Benanti, Drama Desk, Nurse Jackie, Law and Order