BWW Interview: At Home With Georga Osborne
Georga Osborne has been a member of the cabaret community for a long while, balancing her work on the nightclub stage with work in what has been called "the legitimate theater" - and with roles like Florence Foster Jenkins beckoning her, she couldn't get more legitimate. Nevertheless, Georga has frequently returned to clubs like Don't Tell Mama with her unique gift for mixing her classically trained soprano singing voice with a knack for robust comedy, a melding of skills that has netted her two MAC Awards for Outstanding Musical Comedy Performer. Currently on hiatus and focused on a big event in her personal life, Georga is much missed by her comrades in cabaret, but everyone knows she will be back, most likely after she has changed the prefix to her name.
I caught Georga hanging out in her midtown Manhattan high rise, which has been the location of many of her beloved WeathRe Reports -- If you haven't seen one, you need to, they are delicious, as is their founder.
Name: Georga Osborne
First Cabaret Show (Title, Year, Club): "The Best of Georga Osborne (Not Available In Stores)," 1990 or 1991, I think, at The Duplex
Most Recent Cabaret Show: "Back" in 2014
Website or Social Media Handles: UGH! I just went to what I thought was my website and it's no longer there - and dammit, I've paid for it!!! Now I have something else to deal with during the Quarantine!!!!
Twitter and Instagram: glosong2u;
Facebook - Georga Osborne (Don't ask me about Snapchat, although I have used it a couple of times, and I have no idea what TikTok is!)
Georga, you are an actress of renown who has played some really neat roles in your time, have you had a favorite?
You flatter me. I'm hardly renowned, but I have played some wonderful roles. Of course, my favorite role is Florence Foster Jenkins in "Souvenir: A Fantasia on the Life of Florence Foster Jenkins" by Stephen Temperley. From the moment I HEARD about the play, I knew I would have to be Florence one day.
What drew you to the cabaret stage when you first started performing in clubs?
I needed a performing outlet. I had just come off of my first and only, to-date, Broadway show, "Meet Me In St. Louis" and casting directors were not yet knocking on my door. My friend, Gerry Dieffenbach was on the staff at The Duplex and suggested I put a show together - and he and I put together my first show. I chose an ironic title, since nobody had ever heard of me, and my show titles have since had puns or a bit of irony to them.
What kind of things are you doing to fill the time while the city is under voluntary quarantine?
I am working from home! So I am trying to stick to my usual routine as much as possible. Since we are not going out to eat, I have been doing a little more cooking. Just today I made my grandmother's banana bread recipe and it is SO TASTY! I'm doing virtual chats with my sisters - and we even did a chair aerobics class led by my sister, Nancy! She's going to start doing her classes online regularly! (So excited about that - I'll work out more if I'm having fun!)
I see you out in the clubs a lot, what kind of shows do you gravitate toward when planning a night out?
I love to support my friends, so I like to go to their shows. I also will go if someone recommends a show they've seen, especially if the recommendation comes from someone whose opinion I respect. I like shows with humor and heart. I dread going to a ballad-heavy show. Give me comedy! Give me uptempo tunes! I love shows that present the unexpected! I love to walk away being wow'd.
What makes an evening in a cabaret room satisfying to you?
Give me comedy! Give me uptempo tunes! Build me up with the intimate, personal stories and then slay me with the powerful ballad. I love shows that present the unexpected! I want to walk away being wow'd. Or feeling like I wish I had done that show, or better still, make me want to do my own show again.You have toured extensively as an actor, are there different frames of mind a person has to get into when sitting down with a show, being on the road with a show, doing regional theater or playing a club?
When we were in previews for "Meet Me In St. Louis" and rehearsing, rehearsing, and rehearsing... and egos clashing, petty grievances brewing, I said to one of my castmates that I thought Broadway would be different. He replied, "Broadway is just like doing theatre anywhere else. You just get paid better." So doing a show is doing a show. Sometimes you do intimate shows in small spaces and sometimes you do grand shows in magnificent places, but it's about the work, the craft, the material and the people with whom and for whom you are creating art. Your day-to-day experiences may be different, depending on whether you are sitting down with a show or being on the road, or working in a bucolic setting for the summer, or one night a week in a tiny room with a piano and lights, but once you are in the space, it's about the art. Always.
What was your first solo show about?
It was my greatest hits! That nobody knew! I sang my favorite songs - that I thought I sang really well. I wanted to use the show as a kind of showcase of my talent. After all, I had just come off of a Broadway show. Gosh! Did I have a lot to learn!!!
What's the greatest lesson you've learned in your life as an actor?
Listening. Really being in the scene and not just hearing your cues, but making an emotional connection with the other actors in the scene with you. And if it's on a cabaret stage, connecting with the audience. The audience is your scene partner - that's the great thing about cabaret - you are you. And it is up to you to connect to each and every person in the house. (Photo with Jonas Cohen as Cosme McMoon at Capital Repertory Theatre, 2015)
How's the wedding planning going?
We've put things on hold... we were planning to marry on Memorial Day Weekend, but with the coronavirus, we knew it would take a while before people could travel again. We've postponed for now - but it still could change. Or we could just have a couple of friends over and get married on the original date and have a big celebration later... we don't know. Taking it one day at a time.
It's been a while since your last show, is there a chance we might get you back on stage in the future?
I do have fantasies about a new show. It's been brewing for a while now, and I even have the title... but no plans for the immediate future. The wedding is a big production and that's been taking the spotlight.
Georga, how many nuns have you played in your life? BWAHAHAHAHAHA!!! Oh, my! Well, I've played the same nuns several times - let's just say a dozen and call it day, shall we?
Photos provided by Georga Osborne. Headshot by Stephen Mosher