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Broadway star Laura Benanti reveals she broke her NECK on stage at age 22 and was nearly paralyzed

Tony winner Laura Benanti has revealed she broke her neck playing Broadway at age 22 — and under pressure, continued to work through the pain until a doctor said she’d be paralyzed if she didn’t have surgery right away.

Two decades ago, Benanti said she was a “good girl” who didn’t want to cause trouble or jeopardize her career by opening her mouth — even when she broke several bones and was in “intense pain” from injuries.

Today, the 42-year-old actress and singer is a Broadway superstar — and, in her words, a “grown-up woman” — and she refuses to remain silent about her experiences any longer.

Tony Award winner Benanti, 42, revealed the injuries she sustained on the set of a show when she was 22.  Benanti broke a rib, sprained a wrist, then broke her neck, but was told by a theater doctor that they were just hernias

Tony Award winner Benanti, 42, revealed the injuries she sustained on the set of a show when she was 22. Benanti broke a rib, sprained a wrist, then broke her neck, but was told by a theater doctor that they were just hernias

Main role: Although she didn't name the show, she starred in Into the Woods in 2002

Main role: Although she didn't name the show, she starred in Into the Woods in 2002

Main role: Although she didn’t name the show, she starred in Into the Woods in 2002

“I broke my neck when I was 22 years old,” Benanti began an Instagram post on Friday, captioning a photo of her being upset.

“I was on a Broadway show that required two pratfalls (one, from an escalator), 8 times a week,” she continued.

“I wasn’t an acrobat. I wasn’t even a dancer. I was a 22-year-old girl who didn’t know how to say, “This doesn’t feel safe to me.” I was a good girl. A nice girl. I wanted to be liked. So I did it. For months and months.

‘I broke a rib. I sprained a wrist. And then I finally broke my neck,” she said.

But instead of going to the emergency room, the producers took her to a theater doctor who said what they wanted to hear.

“I was sent by the producers to their doctor who told me I had hernias and needed physical therapy. I did that three times a week for months. I got worse. I ended up having to leave the show.”

Flashback: When she left, people involved in the production spread rumors that she was 'difficult' and lazy.'  She said she was a 'good girl' at 22 (pictured) and didn't want to complain

Flashback: When she left, people involved in the production spread rumors that she was 'difficult' and lazy.'  She said she was a 'good girl' at 22 (pictured) and didn't want to complain

Flashback: When she left, people involved in the production spread rumors that she was ‘difficult’ and lazy.’ She said she was a ‘good girl’ at 22 (pictured) and didn’t want to complain

Rude: When she left, people involved in the production spread rumors that she was “difficult” and lazy

Although Benanti didn’t mention the show she was working on when she got the injuries, she was 22 and 2002 — when she starred in Into the Woods as Cinderella.

An article from October 8, 2002 by Poster reported on her departure and her understudy who took over.

“Laura Benanti is from Into the Woods, but questions about how long she will be gone and what exactly happened to the popular young star have no official answer,” the piece reads. “There are rumors that a neck or back injury is the thing that knocked Broadway’s Cinderella off the ground.”

But apparently there were other rumors – namely that Benanti was difficult to work with.

“This was before social media, so when the rumors were going around (perpetuated by many involved in the production) that I was just being hard or lazy or not wanting to come to work, I had no story,” recalls she herself.

Yikes: She was still wearing a neck brace when she started rehearsals for her next show, Nine, in 2003

Yikes: She was still wearing a neck brace when she started rehearsals for her next show, Nine, in 2003

Yikes: She was still wearing a neck brace when she started rehearsals for her next show, Nine, in 2003

She was still wearing a neck brace when she started rehearsals for her next show, Nine, in 2003.

She said she thought if she didn’t have to throw myself on the floor 16 times a week I could do the show, but soon realized I couldn’t.

“I lay on the floor and couldn’t feel my body at all,” she said. “I went to a surgeon who told me to operate immediately or I would be paralyzed. I did it. I went back to Nine 3 weeks later. Because I’m a good girl. A nice girl. A girl who wanted to be loved.

“I still hurt every day. I went back to the doctor. He told me that I was healed and that my pain was a mental health issue. I believed him. Because I’m a nice girl. And he saved my life.

“I lived every day with intense pain for seven years. I missed shows and kept the idea that I was weak or problematic,” she said.

She eventually went to see another surgeon, who had bad news: Not only did her first surgery not fix what was wrong, but it actually made it worse.

Speaking Out: Benanti said she never spoke or complained for being a 'good girl' but she now realizes she's a 'grown up woman' and she's angry

Speaking Out: Benanti said she never spoke or complained for being a 'good girl' but she now realizes she's a 'grown up woman' and she's angry

Speaking Out: Benanti said she never spoke or complained for being a ‘good girl’ but she now realizes she’s a ‘grown up woman’ and she’s angry

“It cracked my vertebrae more and I needed a second, incredibly invasive operation that took months of recovery at my parents’ home. I lost a lot of my hair from the anesthetic,” she said.

Benanti kept quiet about her ordeal for years, but she’s tired of hiding it now.

“I’ve rarely talked about it so directly,” she said. Devoid of the humor needed to put people at ease.

“I wake up every day with pain. And today I woke up angry. Because I’m not a nice girl anymore. I’m a grown woman,” she said.

Benanti has been nominated for a Tony Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Musical for her role in Into the Woods.

She won the award for Gypsy in 2008 and was nominated again for Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown in 2011 and She Loves Me in 2016.

Her other Broadway shows include The Sound of Music (1998-1999), Swing! (1999), The Violet Hour (2003), The Wedding Singer (2006), In the Next Room (of the Vibrator Play) (2009-2010), Meteor Shower (2017-2018) and My Fair Lady (2018-2019).

She has also been featured in several TV shows including Nashville, Supergirl, The Detour and Younger (pictured)

She has also been featured in several TV shows including Nashville, Supergirl, The Detour and Younger (pictured)

She has also been featured in several TV shows including Nashville, Supergirl, The Detour and Younger (pictured)

She has also been featured in several TV shows, including Nashville, Supergirl, The Detour, and Younger.

Benanti has mentioned her broken neck before. In an interview with Talkin’ Broadway, she said her neck was “always painful” after breaking it.

“I have fused vertebrae, which means I move less and am less mobile,” she said. “I was initially misdiagnosed, so I have arthritis and bone spurs. I went nine months with a beating. Then I finally had surgery and now I’m fine.

“It was very dangerous. I could have been paralyzed. I was very lucky that I was never pushed into the street. It was literally to a point where if someone pushed me too hard, I could have been paralyzed.”

She said it was really “hurtful” that people were hurting her about not showing up.

“The people who want to bring you down said whatever they said, so I just wanted to push through.

“Not only did I have neck pain, but they also had to push a tube down my throat.  They went in through the front of my neck, so my cords were incredibly swollen just from having neck surgery,

“Not only did I have neck pain, but they also had to push a tube down my throat.  They went in through the front of my neck, so my cords were incredibly swollen just from having neck surgery,

“Not only did I have neck pain, but they also had to push a tube down my throat. They went in through the front of my neck, so my cords were incredibly swollen just from having neck surgery,” she recalled earlier.

“I had a serious injury and there was absolutely no way I could have done the show. I tried to. I tried to go back and do it, but physically I couldn’t,” she said.

“My feeling was that it was unfair to the public. If I’m limping and can barely move my head, it costs a hundred bucks to see a show. That’s not fair.

‘Then I had surgery three weeks before the first preview of Nine. I missed some shows because I just had neck surgery.

“Not only did I have neck pain, but they also had to push a tube down my throat. They went in through the front of my neck, so my cords were incredibly swollen just from having neck surgery.

“There were days in Nine when I couldn’t speak. I was so swollen in my neck and throat that I couldn’t speak. What are you going to do then? I’m not going out to talk about “Unusual Way”. And you know what? I did what I could. I missed very little, as I had just undergone major life-changing surgery.’

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