Feleceia Benton leads a double life. Most may be familiar with her as the head of Zoe Communications Agency, but Dallas-Fort Worth theatergoers know her as the fierce voice heard in many musicals around town.
Now those powerful pipes are gearing up to rock Dallas City Performance Hall from January 15-17, as Uptown Players and Turtle Creek Chorale stage a concert version of Elton John and Tim Rice's pop musical Aida. Benton is the titular Nubian princess, who tragically falls in love with an Egyptian soldier as her people are being captured by his army.
Before she joins the cast and chorale this weekend, Benton took the time to fill out our survey of serious, fun, and sometimes ridiculous questions.
Name: Feleceia Benton
Role in Aida: Aida
Previous work in the DFW area: Almost every professional stage: Dallas Theater Center (Les Miserables, The Wiz); Uptown Players (Songs For a New World, Ragtime with the Turtle Creek Chorale); WaterTower Theater (The Full Monty, Smokey Joe's Cafe); Bass Hall; Dallas Opera; Theater Three; Casa Mañana ... I've been around for a while.
Hometown: DeSoto, Texas
Where you currently reside: Downtown Dallas
First theater role: The girl who sings "Day by Day" in Godspell.
First stage show you ever saw: I'd be lying if I told you I remember. Probably something at church!
Moment you decided to pursue a career in theater: Sophomore year in high school — that same production of Godspell.
Most challenging role you’ve played: This one is pretty vocally tough. I performed it six years ago with Plaza Theater Company.
Special skills: I'm a self-employed single mother of a little girl who was diagnosed with Down syndrome and has no fingers on her right hand. She's got far more special skills than me. I'd say motherhood is pretty special, though.
Something you’re REALLY bad at: Math. I can't solve for "X" to save my life.
Current pop culture obsession: Brunch? Social media? Barre classes? Do those things count? I'm too old and too sleepy to be obsessed with much else.
Last book you read: You Lost Me: Why Young Christians Are Leaving Church and Rethinking Faith by David Kinnaman.
Favorite movie(s): Dirty Dancing, Coming to America, The Hundred-Foot Journey, An American in Paris.
Favorite musician(s): Ella Fitzgerald and Audra McDonald. The only two women I vocally envy.
Favorite song: "Misty." It's been my favorite since I was 12 years old, before I knew what the heck they were talking about.
Dream role: Eh ... I honestly don't know if I have one. If Anastasia was a staged musical and they were looking for a black Russian, I'd say that.
Favorite play(s): To Kill a Mockingbird.
Favorite musical(s): Godspell. If it re-opened on Broadway and Broadway called me, Zoe and I would pack our bags and hike it to NYC.
Favorite actors/actresses: Meryl Streep and Gene Kelly.
Favorite food: Sugar. Oh, wait. Um ... cupcakes. Fluellen's German chocolate cupcakes ... and Emporium Pie's ebony and ivory pie. So basically, sugar.
Must-see TV show(s): Shark Tank.
Something most people don’t know about you: My friends in theater don't know I own a business (Zoe Communications Agency), and my business-owning friends don't know I do musical theater. Now they do. And I go to bed at 9:30 pm or earlier if Zoe, my little girl, will allow me.
Place in the world you’d most like to visit: Greece and Switzerland.
Pre-show warm-up: Usually some random music-listening that has nothing to do with the show (right now it's a combination of "Pusher Love Girl" by Justin Timberlake and "I'm Turnt" by Lecrae — go figure). I make a lot of obscene noises, chew some gum, and say "Oh, Lord Jesus," 'cause who wouldn't wanna go onstage with Jesus?
Favorite part about your current role: The music is pretty incredible, and a lot of it sits in a part of my voice I don't always get to use. I also have a great partner onstage (Kyle Igneczi). Playing someone's onstage lover when you didn't know them before rehearsals can be incredibly difficult, but he's been awesome to work with. Thanks, onstage boo thang.
Most challenging part about your current project: Spoiler alert: I sing. A lot. Honestly, I am always just looking for the best places to breathe and swallow. Not sure if that's too much information, but ...
Most embarrassing onstage mishap: Part of my costume came off during the Dream Ballet in Oklahoma. That was the one show my dad came to see. He's a preacher. Sorry about that, Dad.
Career you’d have if you weren’t in theater: The other one I'm in right now. My second degree is in advertising/public relations. My wise father wouldn't allow me to just get a theater degree. So when I'm not doing theater, I'm doing branding, brand management, graphic design, and marketing. Not sure if he thought I'd actually have the talent to make enough money to survive doing this little passion project of mine. Thankfully, I love everything I do. Good looking out, Daddy.
Favorite post-show spot: Home. Bed.
Favorite thing about Dallas-Forth Worth: There's so much happening in Dallas right now. I really love the development, the people, and the feeling of community. I also love the food. My child and I eat brunch somewhere in Dallas almost every week. We even started our own hashtag — #brunchtimewithbaby — which we'll probably still be using when she's 25.
Most memorable theater moment: My most memorable moments happen whenever I find myself locked in the moment onstage. I've honestly had a ton of them. I love the life of live theater. There is really nothing like it.