Laura Benanti is a Tony Award-winning actress, singer and social media maven, but things don't go entirely according to plan when she tries out the slick moves of the Radio City Rockettes in this hilarious new video.
The exclusive clip is a sneak peek at Benanti's new role in the "New York Spring Spectacular," which opens at Radio City Music Hall on March 26. Also starring "Dancing with the Stars" veteran Derek Hough and the famed Rockettes, the new show is what Benanti calls "a spectacular love letter to New York City," inspired by the magic of spring.
Directed and choreographed by Tony winner Warren Carlyle and written by Joshua Harmon, the show is billed as a "heartwarming and wondrous journey" through New York. Still, Benanti says the piece also has a socially-conscious message, stressing the importance of a bonafide human experience over a digital one.
"The opportunity to send the message to 3,000-4,000 kids per show to please put down your phones and connect with another human is, I think, a wonderful thing," Benanti told The Huffington Post in an interview. "My hope is that people will leave the theater and put their devices away and go be with each other."
That lesson, Benanti added, is one that her character, Jenna, learns firsthand throughout the course of the show: "She's a bit like a lady Scrooge."
The role is a unusual choice for Benanti, who is best known for her acclaimed turn in the 2008 revival of "Gypsy" as well as her television stints in NBC's "The Sound of Music Live!" and ABC's "Nashville." She said she was drawn to the project because it gave her an opportunity to work with Carlyle and alongside the Rockettes, whom she deems "superheroes, athletes, artists and just incredible women." Meanwhile, the show gave her the chance to do "something that my little cousins could come watch and be really excited about."
Benanti's performance chops has already garnered heaps of praise from Harmon ("Bad Jews"), who called the actress "a total, total blast."
"She can sing like a dream, but she's also extremely funny, and that's a rare combination to find in one performer," he said. "It's been a pleasure to tailor the role and make the part play to her strengths because she has so many."
Harmon, who describes himself as a "jaded New Yorker," hopes the show will be just as impressive to a native Manhattanite as it is to an international tourist visiting the city for the first time.
"If you've never been to New York, the show is a great introduction," he said. "But if you're a born-and-bred New Yorker, it will remind you of some of the magic that's here every day that we probably take for granted and shouldn't."
He then noted, "What I love about New York is that it can become incredibly familiar, and yet still continually surprise you."
The "New York Spring Spectacular" is currently in previews at Radio City Music Hall, with an opening night set for March 26. For more information, head here.
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