Friday, February 19, 2010

Paula Benedetti Danner: from Children's Musical Theater to touring company of Annie

Paula Benedetti Danner (hanging on banister)
and the orphan cast of Annie in 1978 at the
Curran Theater. Jennifer Cihi is in front
and in upper left corner is Molly Ringwald
(photo: Paula Benedetti-Danner)

The curtain was barely down on a 1977 CMT production of The Wizard of Oz and 13-year-old Paula Danner (née Benedetti) was rushing out the door -- not because the audience didn't love her (they did) but because she had a plane to catch: she and fellow cast member Jennifer Cihi had to be in Los Angeles for call back auditions of the second national tour of Annie.

“I barely made the flight as I ran through the airport trying to take Scarecrow make-up off my face.”

Paula and Jennifer were both cast (as was a very young Molly Ringwald), and Paula later went on to appear in the national tour of Cats, in commercials and fronted a rock band in L.A.

Now 45, she lives in Missouri, is a preschool teacher, hotel manager, mom and fashion blogger.

Her career started at CMT in 1971 at age 6 and she appeared in 19 shows. One of her favorite roles was Ado Annie in Oklahoma (1975), but it's not that role that she remembers as teaching her an important life lesson.

Instead, she still remembers desperately wanting a lead role in Cinderella. Instead, she was cast in the ensemble. Being in the chorus taught her the importance of contributing when it is someone else's turn to shine. “Not only was it a valuable life lesson, it was one of the most fun and memorable show experiences of my time at CMT.”

That and many other memories are part of Paula, but after all-is-said-and-done, “The most important thing I learned from John Healy and my CMT years is that only your best is good enough – best effort, best performance –always giving everything you have."

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