denée benton

6

For me, being a dark-skinned black woman with natural hair, getting to be this center of this love story — Growing up, I didn’t get to see that very often…I think that artists and people in entertainment, we have such an incredible power to remind people of their worth and to help people dream big. So it’s exciting to get to be a part of that.

Denée Benton Is Taking Broadway by Storm (x)

just great comet things
  • Having a cast member go up to your section of the seats to explain that you’re not quite seeing a normal show so keep your legs close
  • Natasha seeing Andrey off to the war at the very beginning, before the prologue, looking really heartbroken to see him leave
  • Andrey leaving through The Door™
  • Marya dissing the whole audience as ‘gossips and crybabies’
  • Mary making a random audience guy climb onstage to present to her father as a suitor
  • Snow falling over Andrey reading a letter as Natasha sings during No One Else
  • Gelsey Bell doing the opera screeching and wailing
  • Everyone being on stage most of the time, watching what’s going on and reacting
  • Everyone taking the events of the opera really seriously and then Andrey pops back onstage while ensemble members pull drapes of blood out of him
  • The chemistry between Anatole and Natasha
  • The strobe lights during the club that make you feel like you’re inside a stop motion
  • The costumes becoming bdsm gear and neon for everyone but Anatole, Helene, Pierre and Dolokhov (yes that means Grace McLean in spandex leather doing inappropriate gestures with a whip)
  • Having an ensemble member scream at you to read war and peace over blaring music
  • Pierre forcibly inducing your midlife crisis during Dust and Ashes but it’s okay because he’s having one too
  • Natasha just standing on stage in her underwear for most of Charming
  • The consequent onstage costume change
  • Having a cast member casually walk by at some point and wondering how this show even exists
  • Natasha and Anatole sealing their fate by dramatically walking through The Door™ hand in hand as dramatic strings play 
  • Anatole sitting down and shutting the whole thing down just so he can flirt with someone in the audience for an obnoxious amount of time
  • The Door™ opening with angry red lights to reveal Marya as she screams ‘you will not enter mY HOUse scoundrelll”
  • Natasha pacing all over the stage during Pierre and Anatole and preparing the poison/drinking it then freaking out about what she’s done while the men argue (and then Sonya helping her off the stage)
  • Natasha Very Ill to The Great Comet of 1812 cleansing your soul and putting the whole theatre at peace
  • Feeling like you’re somehow walking in the snow on some russian road with Pierre during the finale
  • All of the characters standing up and gazing at the comet like they all believe it holds the key to their redemption and new beginnings
  • The overall performance adding so many nuances to the story that you leave the theatre confused because what you took for granted about the characters isn’t so solid anymore
4

Musical Theater Meme: Costumes (2/3) - Natasha’s ballgown (Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812)

4

But from the moment she heard “No One Else,” Natasha’s lovestruck aria, Benton clicked with the role. “She has this incredible vitality for life, she feels things so deeply. I thought, She’s just as dramatic and romantic as I was—or am, to be honest. Who wouldn’t want to be the romantic lead chased by all these men, and in furs and corsets, you know? I was like, Natasha: I get you, girl!”

Benton underscores how “exclusion is rooted in such an ugly history of purposeful discrimination.” She goes on to note about the need for diversity in casting, “For us, it’s not necessarily a political statement. It’s just our livelihood. We’re actors who are happy to be working and having the opportunity to tell stories.”

6

theatre challenge: female performers (11/15)

↳  Denée Benton 

“Regardless of whether or not her decisions are bad or good, it’s such an important quality to develop — and one I’m trying to learn for myself — to trust your own heart and know that every decision is part of your path.”