Jewish Broadway Star Julie Benko is Having a Baby! – Kveller
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Jewish Broadway Star Julie Benko is Having a Baby!

The "Funny Girl" and "Harmony" star announced she was expecting her first child with husband Jason Yaeger in a pretty charming way.

Variety’s The Business Of Broadway Breakfast

via Steven Ferdman/Getty Images

Julie Benko and her husband, Jason Yaeger, have been making beautiful music together for years — and I do mean that quite literally. You absolutely need to check out their jazzy rendition of the Yiddish classic “Tumbalalaika!” Soon, a lucky little baby is going to get to hear their voices and tunes all the time! The Jewish Broadway star who stunned audiences with her performance as Fanny Brice in “Funny Girl” and her composer, musician and music professor husband just shared that they are expecting their first child.

Benko, 35, announced the pregnancy in the only way she could — sharing a video of her from the iconic “Funny Girl” number in which Fanny plays a pregnant bride, all dressed in white and singing “The Most Beautiful Bride.” Benko, who was named 2022 Breakout Star for Theater in the New York Times for her role as an understudy and alternate in the show, shared a clip of herself doing the number juxtaposed with images from a recent ultrasound with the words “baby Benko-Yaeger coming this fall.”

“A Broadway baby… for real this time!” she shared in the caption of the post, joking that Daniel Beeman who sang and acted opposite her in the number was actually the father and that “”baby will come out singing perfect high A’s.” She then very earnestly and sweetly shared a future message for her little one: “I cannot wait to meet you, baby, and start clowning around with antics like these,” she wrote.

While I’m sure there will be plenty of silly musical moments and jesting in this baby’s future, there will undoubtedly be so much gorgeous music, too. It was making music that got this very talented couple together over a decade ago. Though it took a while for their relationship to become romantic, Benko first met Yaeger at a Starbucks, trying to find the right pianist to accompany her in a show back in 2013. Jaeger even composed a romantic jazz song inspired by that first meeting titled “Smiled First.” (Having your partner write a romantic jazz song about you is truly the pinnacle of relationship goals.) The two collaborated on a duo album titled “Hand in Hand” as well as on Benko’s debut album and delightful Christmas EP (where their cover of “Tumbalalaika” is featured).

The two got engaged in 2018, and married in 2021. The ceremony was officiated by Benko’s uncle, Rabbi Eric Polokoff, who is the founding rabbi of B’nai Israel Congregation in Southbury, Connecticut.

It was Benko’s cantor, who worked with her on her bat mitzvah Torah portion, who told her mother that the girl had real skills — and who pressured her mother to get her those voice lessons she had always been asking for. She made her musical stage debut at her local JCC in the cast of “Fiddler on the Roof” (where both her sister, her father and her mother were cast in roles, and her dad, a commercial real estate accountant, also caught the stage bug) and it was the iconic Jewish musical that “got me started on the theater journey,” Benko told the Jewish Standard. Benko ended up as an understudy for the role of Hodel, which she played in that first JCC musical, in the 2015 Broadway revival of the musical.

Benko, who went on to originate the role of Ruth Stern in the very Jewish Barry Manilow musical “Harmony,” has also spoken out about the need for authentic Jewish casting, especially for a role like Fanny Brice, in which she makes fun of her own community in the very stereotypically Jewish parody number where she plays Private Schwartz, a Jewish soldier with a heavy New York Jewish accent who adorns himself with bagels. “How you do that number and not be Jewish?” she wondered in a recent interview.

B’sha’ah tovah, Julie and Jason!

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