Fairytale Beginning: Hoosier Emily Behny Stars in Broadway Tour

This month, an actress returns home with her name in lights.

As a Ball State musical-theater grad,

Emily Behny was prepared for dramaand she got plenty of it last fall when she auditioned for the lead in the Broadway touring production of Beauty and the Beast. At the conclusion of one callback in New York City, where Behny was living, she was asked to return the next day and sing for a musical director. She already had plans: She was getting married. In a rather Disney-esque sequence of events, Behny spent the evening waiting tables, went out for her bachelorette party, made the 10 a.m. audition for the part of Belle, and dashed off to her afternoon nuptials at City Hall. When she and her Prince Charming returned from their honeymoon, she learned she had landed the role. “I heard the good news from my agent on the tarmac,” Behny says.
The 24-year-old from Silver Lake, near Warsaw, debuted as Disney royalty in Los Angeles last January—and her opening night was appropriately magical. “It was like we were a rock concert, not a theater production,” she says. They had gates at the stage door to hold in the fans while we signed autographs. Then Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes, and Suri came backstage to meet the cast. “They were so complimentary,” Behny recalls. “Tom said, ‘It was your opening night, really? We couldn’t tell at all.'”
Performing eight shows a week and traveling around the country has made for an intense introduction to show business for Behny, who applauds Ball State’s musical-theater program for providing seniors with a showcase in New York, Chicago, and L.A. Contracted to play Belle through May, Behny will perform at Clowes Memorial Hall Oct. 11­-16 (see our review here), Emens Auditorium in Muncie on Nov. 1, and the Elliott Hall of Music in West Lafayette on Nov. 2. Catch the rising star in Indiana while you can. With prospects for roles in Wicked and a revival of Evita starring Ricky Martin, Behny could soon call Broadway her new home.

Photo by Joan Marcus

This article originally appeared in the October 2011 issue.