Lyric Theatre major Anna Benoit has had a busy year so far! She performed and taught at the Ozark Actors Theatre over the summer, and began her senior year at the University of Illinois. She recently performed in Lyric Theatre @ Illinois' fall 2019 opera, The Adventures of Little Sharp-Ears, and will be performing the role of Sally Bowles in next semester's Lyric Theatre @ Illinois, Dance at Illinois, and Illinois Theatre's co-production of Cabaret. Anna has been lighting up the stage almost since she was born, and has continued to grow as a dynamic and versatile artist. Our interview with her gives some insight into her life as a student and performer:
How did you first get into performing?
I started taking ballet classes when I was three years old! My performing experience began in children's ballets playing such inspiring roles as: tree, brick, pond and bat. As I got more serious about dance, my mom suggested that I take voice lessons so I could audition for community theatre. In eighth grade, I was cast in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and I never looked back. In high school, I began studying classical voice as I continued performing in musicals and ballets.
What would you say is most inspiring to you as an artist?
That every time I walk on stage I am helping to tell a story or convey an emotion or message that may very well impact someone in a way that matters.
What have been some of your favorite roles?
I loved playing with the quirkiness of Rona Lisa in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. Her character made for great fun in the rehearsal room and onstage. Tess, in Crazy for You was also a favorite. Dancing to Gershwin tunes with some of my favorite people in the world is hard to top. I am currently working on Sally Bowles in Cabaret. Delving into this complicated character is a joy and a challenge, as she is different from any character I have previously played.
What drew you to the Lyric Theatre @ Illinois program?
I attended the ISYM Musical Theatre camp before my senior year of high school. While at the camp, I was lucky enough to study with Professor Harris, and to work with Professors Wigley and Tilley. There was no turning back. The opportunity to cross-train as a singer, actor and dancer in a Big 10 program was all I could as for.
How has Lyric Theatre @ Illinois helped you as a performer/artist?
I have had the opportunity to explore every aspect of that which is sung theatre. No other program could have offered me the diversity of experiences on stage from La Boheme to Crazy for You.
What is one of your favorite Lyric Theatre @ Illinois memories?
Sharing a stage and collaborating with my extraordinarily talented, wonderful, spirit-building friends and roommates. I have also dearly loved watching the studio recitals and performances of my classmates. Professor Tilley's attempts to teach me a cockney accent will also live on as a favorite LTI memory.
What was it like at the Ozark Actors Theatre this past summer?
I performed in Mary Poppins, Our Town, and My Fair Lady. During my summer there, I worked with three different creative teams and an incredible company of actors. I taught at the Broadway Bound Summer Camp directed by Taylor Louderman, the original Regina George in Mean Girls on Broadway. I learned so much about the discipline and commitment it takes to sustain a career in this field, but also how joyful and impactful performing can be.
Anna has been nominated for Best Supporting Actress in a Drama by the Broadway World 2019 Regional Awards for her roles as Professor Willard and Mrs. Soames in Our Town at the Ozark Actors Theater. You can cast your vote for her through December 31st, 2019 here: www.broadwayworld.com/st-louis/voteregion.cfm
You can keep up with Anna at her website: https://annabenoit.com/