BWW Interview: Laura Osnes Brings BROADWAY PRINCESS PARTY to Minneapolis
Downtown Minneapolis could be swarming with women and girls (and some men) donning their best ballgowns and tiaras on Aug. 18. It's not prom night. Or Comic Con. Or an early Halloween. It's BROADWAY PRINCESS PARTY, coming to the Pantages Theatre on Hennepin Avenue on the second tour stop in a growing run for a concert that's fit for a princess, or three.
"So it's the three of us singing every princess song in the book" said Laura Osnes, two-time Tony-nominated Broadway star and hometown girl who grew up in Eagan, Minn., and performed on the Twin Cities stages before making her mark in New York. "Disney and non-Disney, Broadway, you name it. It's pretty fun and really special."
Osnes, who has had multiple successes on the New York stage since she left Minnesota after winning a reality television program, "You're the One That I Want," which awarded her a lead role as Sandy in a Broadway revival of GREASE, is joined by two other Broadway and Disney princesses, Courtney Reed and Susan Egan, and one singing prince, Adam Jacobs (Broadway's original Aladdin in Disney's ALADDIN), in a concert that began life in the underground cabaret stage Feinstein's/54 Below in NYC.
Three and a half years ago at a birthday party, the idea for the show began as a suggestion of Osnes' friend, music director and "Fairy Godfairy" Benjamin Rauhala. She immediately loved the idea of doing a concert with all her New York friends, each playing a princess role, which she mapped out on a spreadsheet and set into motion with Rauhala. She said the show just took off from there.
"Something very magical happened when we were performing," she said. "All of these beautiful women singing all these incredible, iconic songs, and person after person just being so talented and blowing the roof off the place. It was sort of this collective, supportive, woman-powered atmosphere."
After selling out a dozen performances at 54 Below, Osnes and Rauhala decided to take the show on the road with a performance in November 2017 in Costa Mesa, Calif., where they sold out another three shows. They could not afford to travel 14 actors in the expanded tour, so they've cut the cast down to the three princesses, all originals on Broadway.
Osnes, of course, played the title role in RODGERS & HAMMERSTEIN'S CINDERELLA, Reed was the original Jasmine in Disney's smash Broadway hit, ALADDIN, a role she played for four years and toured. And Egan was the original Belle in Disney's BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, as well as voicing Meg in the film version of "Hercules."
"When she starts singing her song from 'Hercules,' people start freaking out because they recognize her voice. Like she's the voice from the movie," said Osnes.
The tour begins with a return to Los Angeles for a show Aug. 17 before coming to Minneapolis and then Chicago on Aug. 19. "What we're doing is playing all of our hometowns in this little weekend," said Osnes. Egan and Reed reside in LA right now, and Reed is originally from Chicago.
While Osnes and company won't have time to visit with family and friends during this brief weekend run, Osnes says she's been able to get a lot of time in her hometown over the past year with about five visits in eight months, upping her average of once or twice a year. Asked what she misses most about Minneapolis, Osnes didn't hesitate to respond, "Oh... I love coming back to visit!"
"I miss my time at The Children's Theatre Company and Chanhassen (Dinner Theatres)," she said. "I have so many amazing memories of growing up working at these theaters." She tries to attend a show and visit with her old friends, many of whom are still working here in town.
"I miss the theater community here, to be honest," Osnes said. "It's just thriving and wonderful and I feel like I've been able to remain semi-connected to that family."
One of her connections from her time spent in shows like WIZARD OF OZ and ALADDIN at Tony Award-winning Children's Theatre Company is Reed Sigmund, whom she has invited to play a special guest role in BROADWAY PRINCESS PARTY in Minneapolis. Additionally, the show has invited an area high school student named Myia Ann Baker to perform with the princesses on the Pantages stage. Baker will sing "Almost There," Princess Tiana's song from "Princess and the Frog," after being chosen from a video audition.
BROADWAY PRINCESS PARTY is also an opportunity to hear some behind-the-scenes stories from the three stars, who plan to belt out and "sing the petticoats off every princess song in the book."
Osnes said her favorites of the night are when she performs her "Cinder-epic" number with parts of five or six CINDERELLA songs and "Journey to the Past," from ANASTASIA.
She sees this show as a great opportunity to fill in time between other gigs in NYC and expand on something she really enjoys. "Getting to tour with BROADWAY PRINCESS PARTY is so dreamy, and so fun and I love these girls," she said. "We get along so well and we each bring something uniquely different to the concert." This includes on the business side of the show, as she, Rauhala and Egan work to expand the tour, currently scheduled in nine cities and counting.
"There's a lot of joyous nostalgia involved," Osnes said. "It reaches a vast audience because it's people my age, who grew up watching these movies -- "Little Mermaid," "Aladdin," "Lion King" and "Pochahontas" -- and then it's parents or grandparents with their kids who are still watching these movies. And then, we encourage people to dress up, so if you want to wear your tiara or come with your Princess Belle ballgown, come!"
VIP $99.50, P1 $47.50, P2 $37.50
Showtime: 7:30 PM / Ph: 1-800-982-2787
The Pantages Theatre is located at: 710 Hennepin Ave. Minneapolis, MN 55402
Extra: Beyond Princesses: What's Next?
Laura Osnes wrapped up her run as the original "Julia Trojan" in the new musical BANDSTAND, on Broadway nearly a year ago. "I'm very proud of the show; the story is so important and needs to be heard," she said.
Shortly before it closed, producers chose to film the stage show for posterity and hopes of distributing the film for more audiences to see. It was picked up by Fathom Events and played a two-night run on movie theater screens nationwide this summer.
"I was so moved that two nights in a movie theater - movie theaters across the country - can reach so many more people than six months on Broadway," Osnes said. She said they're all glad the show is documented and permanently on film as they are hoping it'll be available one day to more audiences via online streaming or another service.
Beyond BROADWAY PRINCESS PARTY, Osnes is waiting with the production of a previously announced revival of CRAZY FOR YOU for a Broadway run. The Susan Stroman-directed show originally planned for the 2018-19 season, and was work-shopped in New York this past winter, is still on hold until it finds a theater, which she hopes will happen next spring.
"That's the next foreseeable thing on the horizon," Osnes said.
Photos: Courtesy of BROADWAY PRINCESS PARTY; headshot: Laura Osnes.