Since becoming a mom just eight months ago, Tony Award-winning Broadway powerhouse Laura Benanti’s star is shining brighter than ever. For her first role since she and her businessman husband Patrick Brown welcomed daughter Ella Rose, Benanti will join Amy Schumer, Keegan-Michael Key, and Jeremy Shamos in Steve Martin’s much anticipated play Meteor Shower, officially opening tonight.
While the romantic comedy revolves around lovers butting heads, Benanti says the tense dynamic was merely for the stage. “I was thrilled when I found out [who was] going to be on the project because I’m such a huge fan,” Benanti says. “And then to meet them and to have them be such lovely, fun partners—it felt like we were going to work with our pals, which is pretty incredible.”
Balancing her new-mommy demands with Broadway’s extreme pace wasn’t easy, but Benanti says her experienced scene partners were key to her success. “Everyone on stage is very generous with setting up other people’s laughs,” Benanti says. “Sometimes in comedy it’s kind of every man for himself—everyone is trying to get the most laughs and trying to be the funniest in the room, and that just isn’t the case here.”
Besides impersonating Melania Trump, there is one arena in which Benanti arguably has her illustrious cast beat; as a 20-year resident of New York who has moved 18 times, she’s a certified expert on the city’s every nook and cranny. “I’ve had a ton of adventure and now I see it totally differently because of my daughter. Now I see the unsavory parts that I used to find exciting as a younger person,” says Benanti, who now calls Harlem home. And while it may have taken 18 tries, Benanti says she couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. “The city is the longest love affair I’ve ever had,” she says. “To me there’s just a palpable energy here that you don’t feel anywhere else.”
Below, see Laura Benanti’s guide to New York City.
Cup of Joe: Joe Coffee Company. Not only do they have the most delicious coffee and baked goods but their baristas are so friendly. I’ve been to all of them in the city and they really are the heart of the neighborhood.
Power Lunch: Green Symphony is a little hole in the wall on 43rd street that caters to Broadway folk and healthy eaters. I love their hot and cold bars. Always something delicious and you know you’re getting quality food.
Cocktail Hour: I’m not a drinker but Vinateria in Harlem is a delicious restaurant that also has a really great bar.
Retail Therapy: I abhor shopping. It is my living hell. The only place I actually enjoy going is Intermix but I can’t afford anything there. ????
Field Trip: The Public Theatre. I have loved everything I’ve seen there and every moment of working there.
Date Night: Mermaid Inn on the Upper West Side. That’s where my husband and I had our engagement celebration.
Don’t Miss: Central Park. Every inch of it.
Hidden Gem: The Met Cloisters