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July 11, 2003 - Image 89

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-07-11

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NOW ON SALE • CALL 248-645-6666



Dharma & Greg,
Seinfeld and Friends.
His most tri-
umphant role, how-
ever, is one in which
he neither directs
nor acts, and in fact
is not even seen: He
does the voice of
Beast in Disney's
Beauty and the Beast,
the only animated
motion picture ever
to be nominated for
an Academy Award for Best Picture.
"Beast was a lovely role, reminiscent
of a Broadway show, which it later
became," Benson says. "That movie
touched so many young people."
Now Benson is looking forward to
helping young people in a more direct
fashion. After teaching filmmaking
part time at universities for 15 years,
Benson is proud of his appointment at
Appalachian State, "ranked the No. 1
one small school in the country by
Time magazine," he notes.
Benson will teach in the theater and
English departments, while his wife of
20 years, Karla DeVito, the former
lead female vocalist for the rock band
Meat Loaf, will teach voice.
Apart from screenwriting, Benson
prefers not to give names to his other
As someone who has done it, and
who wants to give back, I plan to teach
how to survive in the world of film-
making, and make students believe
they can do it," he says.
Benson does not see this transition as
the end of his performing career.
"I still have a lot to do, a lot in me,
and a lot to say," he insists. His next
project is the musical Open Heart, for
which Benson wrote everything — the
book, the lyrics and the music.
The musical had a workshop run in
Los Angeles and is slated to open at
the Cherry Lane Theater in New York
in June 2004, he says.
"I wrote Open Heart out of love for
my wife," Benson says.
But those who know Benson under-
stand the deeper meaning of the tide:
Benson has undergone two open-heart
surgeries, the first at age 28.
After his second heart surgery, at age
42, Benson received an award from the
Heart of a Child Foundation for his
charitable work on behalf of research
to cure congenital heart defects.
"Heart surgery does change your per-
spective in life," Benson says with a
touch of understatement, as he opens a
new chapter in a career that is far from
over. Li

Musical comedy
exactly as you like it!"

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Music & lyrics by Cole Porter, including: "So In Love,"
"Another 0 'nin Another Show" & "Too Darn Hot"

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