Thursday, June 27, 2013

Interview: Laura Osnes of Broadway's Cinderella

Santino Fantana and Laura Osnes in Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella. Photo: Carol Rosegg

God’s Light Shines Bright on Broadway
By Lauren Yarger
Growing up in a suburb of Minneapolis, Laura Osnes wished that one day her dream of singing on a Broadway stage would come true. Little did she know it would -- and with a Fairy Godmother to boot.

She worked hard through high school and landed roles in musicals with performances schedules that kept her from being able to attend youth group at Oak Hills Church, affiliated with the Assemblies of God, as often as she would have liked. But when God is part of your dream, showtunes like “It’s Possible,” take on new meaning, Osnes, 27, has found.

In the latest leg of a fairytale-like journey, Osnes find herself starring eight times a week on a Broadway stage as Cinderella. She was selected for the role while this newest version of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s classic with favorite tunes like “Ten Minutes Ago,” “In My Own Little Corner” and “A Lovely Night” was still in development for its upcoming Broadway run. 

The musical had been presented on television in several versions beginning in 1957 with Julie Andrews in the lead. Versions starring Leslie Ann Warren and pop star Brandy followed, but the show never had played on Broadway until this March. For this production, with a book updated by four-time Tony Award ® nominee Douglas Carter Beane to appeal to a younger generation, producers tapped Osnes.

For the beautifully-voiced actress, Cinderella is her breakout role (she was nominated for a Tony). Osnes first burst onto the New York Theater scene in 2007 when she competed on the nationally televised search “Grease: You're the One that I Want” which landed her the role of Sandy on Broadway. She wasn’t sure she could do it, but God told her, “Go and I’ll give you what you need.”

The opportunities didn’t stop with Grease. She took over the role of Nellie Forbush in South Pacific at Lincoln Center, then was cast opposite Sutton Foster in Anything Goes before landing the lead in the new Frank Wildhorn musical Bonnie & Clyde, which had a short run on Broadway. It ran long enough, however, to earn Osnes a Tony Award ® nomination for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical.

This show offered her some challenges while it was in development. Osnes was required to take the Lord’s name in vain (Three “GDs,” as she puts it) and nudity was being considered. Every Christian in the industry eventually feels pressure to be something they’re not or to do something that makes them uncomfortable, she said. She herself had turned down a role in Broadway’s Avenue Q, the racy Sesame Street lookalike show featuring puppets, because she wasn’t comfortable with its content. Those decisions can result in some difficult conversations, but “it’s so important to stay true to who you are,” she said. For Osnes, that means no nudity.

“Everybody is different and God has grace for it all, but that’s a line for me.”

Her prayers were answered for Bonnie & Clyde: the language and possible nudity were cut from the show before it hit Broadway.

Praying about everything has always been a part of life for her. She accepted the Lord when she was 3 or 4 (her dad was a Lutheran minister) and she attended her dad’s church after her parents divorced. She reaffirmed her faith as an adult.

“People know what I believe. I just don’t push it on them” she said. Not having the gift of evangelism, she feels called to have “compassion and love for everyone one,” she said as we chatted in her dressing room at the Broadway Theatre, surrounded by her costumes and props like a large pumpkin and a rubber chicken that had been cut from the show.

Sometimes she feels judged for being “so sweet and so conservative,” she said. The word “Christian” can get “such a bad rap.” She tries to use words that best communicate her faith, like “contemporary” or “worship.”

“It’s not about religion; it’s about relationships.”

She attends C3 Church Manhattan, where her husband, Nate, plays in the worship band. She also enjoys fellowshipping with other believers in Cinderella and in other shows in New York.

“There are more of us than you might think,” she said. “God has brought a lot of us to be a light.”

She takes that to heart and knows that she is an example for the young girls waiting for her autograph at the stage door.

“I’m so blessed,” she said. “So many doors have opened for me. I’m getting paid to wear a ball dress on a stage.”

Yes, some fairytales do come true.

You can find more information about the show and tickets and listen to Osnes sing “In My Own Little Corner” at http://www.cinderellaonbroadway.com/. Some “Rush” tickets priced at $32 are available on the day of the show at the Box Office, 1681 Broadway to students with valid student IDs.
 
 
Read the review of the show here:
 
 

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Our reviews are professional reviews written without a religious bias. At the end of them, you can find a listing of language, content or theological issues that Christians might want to know about when deciding which shows to see.

** Mature indicates that the show has posted an advisory because of content. Usually this means I would recommend no one under the age of 16 attend.

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

My Bio

Lauren Yarger has written, directed and produced numerous shows and special events for both secular and Christian audiences. She co-wrote a Christian musical version of “A Christmas Carol” which played to sold-out audiences of over 3,000 in Vermont and was awarded the 2000 Vermont Bessie (theater and film awards) for “People’s Choice for Theatre.” She also has written two other dinner theaters, sketches for church services and devotions for Christian artists.

Yarger trained for three years in the Broadway League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Three-Day Training and produced a one-woman musical about Mary Magdalene that toured nationally and closed with an off-Broadway run.

She was a Fellow at the National Critics Institute at the O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT. She writes reviews of Broadway and off-Broadway theater (the only ones you can find in the US with an added Christian perspective) at http://reflectionsinthelight.blogspot.com/.

She is editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection (http://ctarts.blogspot.com), an award-winning website featuring theater and arts news for the state. She is a contributing editor for BroadwayWorld.com and is a theater reviewer for the Manchester Journal-Inquirer. She previously served as Connecticut theater editor for CurtainUp.com and as Connecticut and New York reviewer for American Theater Web.

Yarger is a book reviewer for Publishers Weekly and freelances for other sites. She is a member of the National Book Critics Circle.

She is a freelance writer and playwright and member of The Drama Desk, The Outer Critics Circle, The American Theater Critics Association and The League of Professional Theatre Women. She served as a judge for the SDX Awards presented by the Society of Professional Journalists. She also is a member of the Connecticut Critics Circle and the CT Press Club.

A former newspaper editor and graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Yarger also worked in arts management for the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and served for nine years as the Executive Director of Masterwork Productions, Inc. She lives with her husband in West Granby, CT. They have two adult children.

Copyright

All material is copyright 2008- 2017 by Lauren Yarger. Reviews and articles may not be reprinted without permission. Contact reflectionsinthelight@gmail.com

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Key to Content Notes:

God's name taken in vain -- means God or Jesus is used in dialogue without speaking directly to or about them.

Language -- means some curse words are used. "Minor" usually means the words are not too strong or that it only occurs once or twice throughout the show.

Strong Language -- means some of the more heavy duty curse words are used.

Nudity -- means a man or woman's backside, a man's lower front or a woman's front are revealed.

Scantily clad -- means actors' private areas are technically covered, but I can see a lot of them.

Sexual Language -- means the dialogue contains sexually explicit language but there's no action.

Sexual Activity -- means a man and woman are performing sexual acts.

Adultery -- Means a married man or woman is involved sexually with someone besides their spouse. If this is depicted with sexual acts on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Sex Outside of Marriage -- means a man and woman are involved sexually without being married. If this is depicted sexually on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Homosexuality -- means this is in the show, but not physically depicted.

Homosexual activity -- means two persons of the same sex are embracing/kissing. If they do more than that, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Cross Dresser -- Means someone is dressing as the opposite sex. If they do more than that on stage the listing would include the corresponding "sexual activity" and/or "homosexual activity" as well.

Cross Gender -- A man is playing a female part or a woman is playing a man's part.

Suggestive Dancing -- means dancing contains sexually suggestive moves.

Derogatory (category added Fall 2012) Language or circumstances where women are referred to or treated in a negative and demeaning manner.

Other content matters such as torture, suicide or rape will be noted, with details revealed only as necessary in the review itself.

The term "throughout" added to any of the above means it happens many times throughout the show.

Reviewing Policy

I receive free seats to Broadway and Off-Broadway shows made available to all voting members of the Outer Critics Circle and The Drama Desk, the two professional critics organizations with journalists covering NY theater. Journalistically, I provide an unbiased review and am under no obligation to make positive statements. Sometimes shows do not make tickets available to reviewers. If these are shows my readers want to know about (I review all Broadway shows and pertinent Off-Broadway shows), I will purchase a ticket. If a personal friend is involved in a production, I'll let you know, but it won't influence a review. If I feel there is a conflict, I won't review their portion of the production.

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