DENVER (CBS4) – The Denver Center for the Performing Arts is taking a step toward a return to the theater, as Tony Award Winning actress Laura Benanti will hit the virtual stage this Saturday, Nov. 14. Benanti joins Tony Award winner Patti Lupone and critically acclaimed actress and singer Vanessa Williams as the trio behind “Live from the West Side: Women of Broadway.”

The DCPA was one of only a handful of organizations selected to participate in the “Live from the West Side” series.

Laura Benanti (credit: CBS)

The three women involved in the series compiled their own individual performances, which were intentionally spread out across a six-week period. Lupone, star of “Hollywood” on Netflix, already performed the first of the three-event series at the end of October.

Benanti’s performance, which will start at 6 p.m. MST Saturday, will only be accessible online and with a ticket.

In an interview with CBS4’s Dillon Thomas, Benanti said she felt virtual performances were significantly more natural for both the performers, and the audience, than she first expected.

“While I was concerned it would feel weird, it didn’t. I think because we do so much (virtual meetings) now. I can’t tell you how many Zoom meetings I have a day,” Benanti said. “It is like I am used to it. For better or for worse, I am a silly person. So, I’m happy to just enjoy myself.”

The DCPA has been outspoken on their mission to both inspire and engage audiences of all ages through the performing arts. Even though a global pandemic has hindered their ability to entertain large audiences in a live setting, Benanti said the DCPA is still striving to honor their mission through virtual performances.

She said her performance, a mixture of singing and storytelling, often goes unscripted at times.

While the songs she sings will stay consistent, she said the journey between them often relies on her being authentic and real with a virtual audience.

(credit CBS)

“We can inspire just by being ourselves,” Benanti said. “I think just being connected with each other, being human with each other, being real with each other… I just like to be who I am, in whatever state I am in without expecting myself to be any different. And, I encourage others to do the same.”

Tickets for Benanti’s performance can be purchased for $30 through the DCPA.

Each ticket comes with access to the virtual performance, as well as 72 hours of on-demand viewing of the performance in case you need to briefly step away. Each show is transmitted in HD video with professional sound mixing.

Williams shows cost the same, $30, and are scheduled for Dec. 5 and 6.

“We are delighted to offer this exclusive opportunity to our patrons and community at large,” said DCPA Broadway Executive Director John Ekeberg. “At this time, more than ever, theatre continues to have the ability to lift our spirits and enrich our lives. We sincerely look forward to making this opportunity available so that we can reconnect with our loyal fans in a safe, responsible and entertaining way.”

Dillon Thomas

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