Interview: Laura Osnes On CRAZY FOR YOU's 25th Anniversary Concert: 'It's Exhilarating'

By: Feb. 16, 2017
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'It's possible.'

Especially for Broadway's original Cinderella, Laura Osnes, who is busier than ever these days rehearing for multiple shows and benefit concerts. On Sunday, February 19, the Tony Award nominated actress will play Polly Baker in Manhattan Concert Productions' one-night only 25th anniversary performance of Crazy for You at Lincoln Center.

Over the course of the show's two week rehearsal period, Osnes also started rehearsals for the Broadway transfer of Papermill Playhouse's production of Bandstand, which begins previews at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre on March 31. A first rehearsal kickoff celebration was held at Tommy Tune's home. Bandstand is about the swing-fueled, against-all-odds story of singer/songwriter Donny Novitski (Corey Cott) and his band of mismatched fellow vets brilliantly to the stage.

"I am allowing myself to be 95% at Crazy For You and 5% at Bandstand," Osnes explained over the phone to BroadwayWorld during her Crazy For You lunch break.

Crazy For You, based on the 1930 musical, Girl Crazy, featuring classic songs by George Gershwin is directed by five-time Tony Award winner Susan Stroman. 'Stro,' as many call her, is revisiting her original choreography from the 1992 Broadway production. It will also feature minimal sets and costumes, but use all of the original props.

"I feel so honored," Osnes says of being a part of this monumental evening. "The most fun part for me is the dancing because I haven't gotten to do that much on Broadway and in the last several years."

Much of Osnes' dancing will be partnered with Tony Yasbeck (Bobby Child). Others in the all-star cast include: Rachel Dratch (Patricia Fodor), Jack McBrayer (Eugene Fodor), Nancy Opel (Lottie Child), Rachel Bloom (Irene Roth) and Harry Groener (Bella Zangler) who originated the role of Bobby Child.

In the midst of getting ready for two different shows, celebrating Valentine's Day with her husband and going to the movie premier of Newsies, Osnes chats about what it's like working with Susan Stroman and Harry Groener plus-- some changes ahead for Bandstand.

How are rehearsals for Crazy For You going so far?

It is amazing. I am having the time of my life but it's kicking my butt. I was overwhelmed for the first three days. I don't think I quite realized how demanding it was going to be. I like Crazy For You but I don't actually know the show that well. I saw a community theater production when I was a kid and I have the [Broadway] cast album so I am familiar with the music. But, I am kind of experiencing it abreast for the first time. It's really, really, fun.

What does it mean to you to be a part of this one-night only 25th anniversary production?

It's daunting in that way, but I feel so honored. It feels pretty special to be working with Susan Stroman. She has a collaborative and warm atmosphere in the [rehearsal] room. She is still on her feet dancing with crystal clear taps. She's a presence in the room and it's an honor to watch her and learn from her. She's very sweet.

What have you learned from 'Stro' so far?

She has something about her that you want to impress her. It makes you go that extra mile and work hard because you know she demands perfection. She also gives you the process. Even in these ten days we've had -- she lets you figure it out and gives you time to get it right.

What's been the best part of being in this show aside from its talented cast and creative team?

The most fun part for me is dancing because I haven't gotten to do that much on Broadway in the last several years. My body is really sore but I feel alive. It's exhilarating. Tony Yazbeck has been a gracious and wonderful partner. People are like, "You look like you've been dancing together for months." [Meanwhile], we've only had six days of rehearsal.

How is it working with the original Bobby Child, Harry Groener?

He joined us yesterday. He got teary-eyed watching [Tony and me] dance. He said, "I am amazed I used to do that at one time." Harry tells us these stories [from 25 years ago when he starred on Broadway in the role] about everyone kissing each other [as part of the show]. "We would always walk offstage with Listerine and hand sanitizer," he said. "If one person got sick we all would get sick." Today, in rehearsal, Stro called Tony - Harry - by accident. Tony was like, "I am never forgetting this moment."

What's been the hardest part of putting on Crazy For You with such little rehearsal time?

The hardest thing is the number, "Shall We Dance." We've been referencing the Paper Mill Playhouse production. [Stacey Logan and Jim Walton who played Polly and Bobby] made it look so easy. You never realize until you're dancing it is impossible. You feel like you want to throw up afterwards.

Shall we dance? ?? #CrazyForYou at @lincolncenter this Sunday at 8pm! @tappntony

A post shared by Laura Osnes (@lauraosnes) on

How are you juggling rehearsals for Crazy For You and Bandstand?

I am allowing myself to be 95% at Crazy For You and 5% at Bandstand. We just started Bandstand rehearsals yesterday. I was there for only two hours and then I came here to Crazy For You. I have to compartmentalize and allow myself to focus on Crazy For You right now which is four days away. I haven't done it before. As with Bandstand -- I have done it before. Yes, it's new and there are changes but I have four more weeks to work on Bandstand.

How has Bandstand changed since it played at New Jersey's Papermill Playhouse in 2015?

Plot points haven't drastically changed. But [the creative team] refined a lot of things in beautiful ways to get inside these characters' heads even more. There are four new songs. I have one new song and Corey [Cott] and I have a new duet together. I hear they are trying to get me to dance a little more in that as well.

Do you have to relearn anything?

I will have to go back and relearn since I've done so many things since then. The songs and lines will come back to me but it will take work to get it back in my body and my brain.

When you do begin eight performances a week on Broadway, what will your typical day look like?

Sleeping in to 10:00-10:30a.m. Maybe try to take quiet time to snuggle with my dog, journal or make breakfast. Maybe I'll go get coffee or tea with a friend, go on an audition if I have to, do laundry and then go to the show at night. In previews, we are still rehearsing during the day. If there is a benefit on a Monday [when the show is dark] maybe I am rehearsing a song to sing for it.

Do you still take singing lessons?

I don't. I've had two singing lessons since I moved to the city 10 years ago and they've both been within the last month. Because I am singing every day, doing shows or concerts, my voice has been able to stay in shape. Bandstand is a big thing for me so if there is anything that can help me tackle this role of Julia Trojan and keep my voice healthy -- I want to take action to do that.

If you ever get a night off this spring, what show would you see?

I saw Dear Evan Hansen already and I would go back multiple times.