In just a few years, Steven Pasquale and Laura Benanti have become one of Broadway’s most visible — and adorable — power couples. She is not only a Tony Award winner (for her portrayal last year of Louise/Gypsy Rose Lee in the revival of Gypsy) but just co-hosted the “Creative Arts” segment of the 2009 Tony Awards, while he was also at the ceremony as part of the cast of Neil LaBute’s play reasons to be pretty (closing on June 14), in which he makes his Broadway debut as the chauvinistic Kent.
Benanti says she was nervous to see Pasquale play “such an asshole,” in the work — in which he literally takes some punches from co-star Thomas Sadoski — but her parents ended up getting a kick out of watching their son-in-law get his onstage just rewards. “I had told my mom that sometimes when he gets beat up, the audience claps, so don’t be upset,” says Benanti. “Then after they saw it, she said to me, ‘I started clapping when they punched Steve, and your dad joined in!’ But I know she said it because Steve is so good at playing his character; he really brings you in to whatever he’s doing.”
Benanti and Pasquale first met professionally when they starred opposite each other in the World AIDS Day benefit concert performance of The Secret Garden in 2005, and shared their first kiss there — onstage as Lily and Archibald. But it wasn’t until a few months later — when Benanti was playing Julia in The Wedding Singer on Broadway and Pasquale was filming his television series Rescue Me — that they went on their first date.
“There was a mutual kind of magnetism that couldn’t be described,” Pasquale says. As for Benanti, who had been briefly married before, she never thought she would end up with a fellow actor. “I’ve always felt a little bit lonely in this industry because I never found somebody who’s kind of like me but Steve is,” she notes. “I recognized that in him immediately.”
In addition to being a Broadway and television star, Pasquale is now a solo recording artist, having recently released his first CD, Somethin’ Like Love on PS Classics; he will perform selections from it at a one-night gig at Feinstein’s at the Loews Regency on Sunday, June 28. “I was listening to it the other day and I was crying like a little baby. It’s so good,” says Benanti.
As for Benanti, who recently earned rave reviews for her Off-Broadway debut in Christopher Durang’s Why Torture Is Wrong and the People Who Love Them, she is taking it easy, and says she’s perfectly happy to stay home. “I actually cook when I’m not working, which I never do when I’m working,” says Benanti — and then Pasquale interrupts with a chuckle: “What she meant to say was, ‘one time I cooked.'”