Emily Behny will present a master class to Warsaw Community High School students, and then perform in a concert Aug. 24 to benefit All Things New. Behny, a 2005 WCHS graduate, has appeared on stage from the Wagon Wheel Theatre to national tours of “Disney’s Beauty & The Beast” and “Wicked.” Photo provided.
Emily Behny will present a master class to Warsaw Community High School students, and then perform in a concert Aug. 24 to benefit All Things New. Behny, a 2005 WCHS graduate, has appeared on stage from the Wagon Wheel Theatre to national tours of “Disney’s Beauty & The Beast” and “Wicked.” Photo provided.

NEW YORK CITY – She’s entertained audiences across the country on Broadway tours and made appearances in television shows like “Blue Bloods,” but now Emily Behny is coming home to Warsaw for a benefit concert.

The 2005 Warsaw Community High School graduate will perform at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 24 in the Warsaw Performing Arts Center. VIP tickets are $30, which includes VIP seating and after-party access, and reserved tickets are $15. Half of all ticket proceeds will go to All Things New, a Warsaw residential addiction treatment center for women.

Beginning Aug. 1, tickets may be ordered by phone at 574-371-5040 or online at https://wchs.warsaw.k12.in.us/pac-style-2/entry/coming-home.

The idea for the benefit concert, aptly titled “Coming Home,” bloomed from a conversation Behny had with WCHS drama teacher Dana McAfee. She asked McAfee about bringing a master class to WCHS and if students would be interested in working with her. That developed into a two-day master class, culminating with the concert. In the master class, students will receive acting coaching on songs and monologues and do a talkback with Behny about the industry. Behny will not only sing at the concert but also chronicle her personal journey over the last 10 years. Students will perform in a group number.

The master class and concert are an opportunity the former Silver Lake Elementary School student said she would have loved growing up. She always sang but didn’t take voice lessons or receive acting coaching until her freshman year in college.

“To have access to a working actor with commercial success and hear their story in a classroom setting would have been invaluable,” Behny said.

When she was on national tour with shows like “Disney’s Beauty & The Beast” or “Wicked,” the cast would often do talkbacks with young artists. She said it was important for them to do that to show that not everything about the entertainment business was all glamorous. She said it takes tenacity, self-introspection and not measuring your self-worth by whether you get booked for a job or not.

“You get a lot of no’s and lots of rejection. It’s really tough,” Behny said. Most of the time a career is not made by booking one show.

“For artists, our work is personal, but the work we audition for is a business,” she said.

After graduating high school, where she performed in many of the school’s musicals as well as at the Wagon Wheel Theatre, Behny attended Grace College for two years and then transferred to Ball State University. She graduated from BSU in 2010. In November 2018, she received the Young Alumni Award from the BSU Department of Theatre and Dance.

In 2011-12, seven months after moving to New York City, she was booked for 1-1/2 years as Belle in the national tour of “Disney’s Beauty & the Beast.” She was 23 years old.

After playing Belle, she did a short gig at the Goodspeed Opera House in Connecticut. Then she landed the role of Nessarose in the national tour of “Wicked.” Nessarose is the Wicked Witch of the East. A big career benefit of playing Nessarose was that Behny earned her Equity Card, which is membership in the stage actors union.

She played Nessarose for a year, took a small break and then did another show at Goodspeed – a show she helped write.

The musical, “The Circus in Winter,” based on the novel of the same name by Cathy Day, a BSU professor, was Behny’s first musical writing experience. She wrote it with 13 other Ball State students, spending an entire semester developing the musical. It follows the life and times of the Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus, which actually existed and wintered in Peru, Ind.

Goodspeed picked up the musical and Behny got to perform the role written for her in 2014. At the Aug. 24 concert, she will sing “Look What We Can Do,” from “The Circus In Winter.” Ben Clark was at the helm of the music and lyrics for "Circus in Winter," Behny said, and he wrote "Look What We Can Do."

“I know they’re still working on it, but I’m not sure about any future productions,” she said, noting that many shows are in development for years and still may not be produced. “It’s a really beautiful story, and the novel is great.”

After “The Circus,” Behny did a slew of shows at regional theaters – from playing Sandy in “Grease” at the North Carolina Theater to Janet in “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” Sherrie in “Rock of Ages” at Gateway Theatre and Belle again in “Beauty & The Beast” at Gateway.

She also booked her first Off-Broadway show, “The Fantasticks.”

She’s now making a transition to television and films. She has had three co-stars – meaning five lines or less – in “Blue Bloods,” “Mr. Robot” and “Bull.” Through those three roles, she was able to join the Screen Actors Guild, which will help her land better and better-paying acting jobs.

It wasn’t necessarily that she decided all of a sudden to make the transition to television, as she had been auditioning for it for some time and something finally clicked.

“I really love it. It’s far more structured than theater, from the auditioning process to the costume fitting to the first day on set. I like the process and the paycheck,” Behny said, noting she just received a residual check from “Bull” during the telephone interview Tuesday. “Everything helps.”

Her dream is to book a recurring role or series regular, with more material and more dialogue.

Dream role on a dream show? A cop in a police drama. “I’d be a great detective,” she said. “I’d love to be a strong, complicated woman” on a network television show or any show for that matter. “As long as the woman has more to her story than finding a man,” she said. Network shows tend to run longer.

Of course, that doesn’t mean her Broadway dreams are over. Behny said she’d love to originate a role in a Broadway show.

“None of this is easy. It’s tough. There are so many shows, but so many actors are vying for the same roles,” she said.

Celebrating her 10th anniversary of moving to the Big Apple, Behny said New York has helped her to grow up considerably.

“It is a city of extremes and I’m in a career of extremes. I wouldn’t say it’s an easy place to live. It’s extremely fast-paced,” she said, but there’s plenty of opportunities and culture and food to learn about. “I’m constantly challenged and learning. I step out of my apartment and I’m energized by this city. I’m so alive. Of course, there are days I cry on the subway, too. Life is tough and it’s just magnified by this city of 8 million.”

It is because of her passions that Behny wanted to bring the masterclass and concert to her high school alma mater. She likes to educate young artists and the workshop allows her to do that. The concert allows her to share her story. And it being a benefit concert for All Things New allows her to give back to her community and specifically help empower women.

Behny said she likes that All Things New empowers women, especially vulnerable women. All Things New is doing great things for women in Warsaw and she wants to help them do that. She said she supports All Things New in its mission to serve women and equip them with mental health counseling and other tools to begin again – another cause she is passionate about.

Learn more about Behny and her acting updates at www.emilybehny.com.