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Laura Benanti goes from New Jersey to Nashville by way of Broadway

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Sandy Kenyon sits down with Laura Benanti, who has joined the cast of the ABC series 'Nashville'. (WABC)

When you think of the ABC show 'Nashville', anything from New Jersey may not seem like a natural connection.

But one actress hopes to change that. Laura Benanti was a fan of the show before she got cast as a rising country star, Sadie Stone.

It's a long way from Kinnelon, New Jersey to 'Nashville', and Laura Benanti got there by way of Broadway.

Turns out her latest role was a natural fit, because this Jersey gal loves country music, and the show that celebrates it.

"I had tweeted about it and watched it. I'm a big fan of Connie Britton so that was exciting for me to get to work with her," Laura said.

Benanti's character was introduced after this cast had already been together for two full seasons.

"You're going into a family in effect. Can that be tough?," I asked her.

"Yeah it can feel like being the new kid in a high school where everybody already knows each other and they've grown up together and they have a shorthand and all of a sudden you're like, 'Can I sit with you for lunch?'. But I have to tell you by Day 2 on 'Nashville', they treated me like I was a series regular," she said.

But Laura has no plans to give up her Broadway career, and we caught up with her back in the city, where she is preparing for a New Year's Eve show at '54 Below'.

"Cabaret is an opportunity to sing songs and tell stories and be yourself," said Benanti.

A chance to be funny and be silly and show off her quirky side, as she did during a photo shoot to promote the engagement.

"My sense of humor has gotten me through a lot of things in my life," said Laura.

An on-stage accident when she was 21 required spinal surgery, and a long recovery. Complications developed a few years later and Laura feared she might not work again, but there has been a pleasant side effect.

"It gave me a tremendous sense of empathy and compassion for people that I hadn't had before," she said.

It's a wonderful story of perseverance and her character is front and center on 'Nashville' for several weeks. Wednesday night is a big episode for her character as everyone goes to the CMA Awards.

'Nashville airs every Wednesday night at 10 p.m., right before Eyewitness News at 11 on ABC7.





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