BWW Interview: Laura Osnes Brings BROADWAY PRINCESS PARTY to the Lied Center For Performing Arts

BWW Interview: Laura Osnes Brings BROADWAY PRINCESS PARTY to the Lied Center For Performing Arts

Royalty is coming to the Lied Center for Performing Arts in Lincoln, Nebraska for one night only! On January 19, 2019, plan on spending an enchanted evening with Broadway stars and former princesses, Tony Award® nominee Laura Osnes (Cinderella, Cinderella), Courtney Reed (Princess Jasmine, Disney's Aladdin) and Susan Egan (Belle, Beauty and the Beast).

Laura Osnes graciously answered my questions about her career and THE BROADWAY PRINCESS PARTY.

My daughter and I first saw you in the televised competition, "Grease: You're the One That I Want." Can you describe what that experience was like for a Minnesota girl? (You were the one that we wanted, by the way!)

Awww, thank you! It was a crazy experience. I was known on the reality show as "Small Town Sandy," which I honestly think helped voters in middle America to relate to me. I'm so glad I did it because it put me on the map and made my Broadway dream come true... but I don't think I would do it again! It was stressful performing live on TV every week and being judged by America. We were all so young, too - I had no television experience and was suddenly having my make-up done and getting spray-tans once a week! We did manage to have a lot of a fun, though. I still keep in touch with several of the contestants. I think we'll all have a special bond forever because of what we went through together.

When did you know that you were destined for a career on stage? Was Chanhassen Dinner Theatre in Minnesota your first professional role?

For as long as I can remember, I've wanted to be a "Broadway actress." I think I came out of the womb singing and dancing, and performing was the one thing I always had my heart set on. I used to act out musicals in my living room and did a lot of community and professional theater in Minnesota as a child and young adult. My first professional job was actually at The Children's Theater Company in Minneapolis. I played one of the 12 Little Girls in Madeline's Rescue when I was 12. I went on to do another couple shows there, as well as A Christmas Carol at the Guthrie and Prince And The Pauper at the Ordway before I booked The Music Man at Chanhassen Dinner Theatre when I was 17.

We also saw you in "Bonnie & Clyde" in NYC. We and every other person who saw the show loved it. You became our favorite Broadway leading lady. Further proof that audiences love you is that you won broadway.com Audience Award for Favorite Lead Actress in a Musical. How can audiences and critics have such different views of a show?

Thanks so much. I loved playing Bonnie and doing that show was definitely a career highlight for me. I've actually lost a lot of respect for many of the NY critics and, especially lately, how cynical they are. Everyone is allowed their own opinion, but when a critic can't even acknowledge or appreciate how hard the actors & crew are working, the years of dedication, creativity, financial investment, hundreds of provided jobs, and all the things that have to go RIGHT to even make a musical happen on Broadway, it completely offends me. I am annoyed that one person's negative opinion is given so much reverent publicity. A bad review really can sink a ship. It often seems that these critics make going to the theater a chore... when really, I would love to see writers who thrive off going to the theater and have a deep love/respect for the art form, which will hopefully fuel reviews with more objective criticism.

You played Rodgers and Hammerstein's CINDERELLA on Broadway, received another Tony Award nomination and won a Drama Desk Award. Did you see the 1957 version with Julie Andrews, the 1965 version with Lesley Ann Warren, or the 1997 version with Brandy Norwood? If so, do you feel your character is more like one than another, or do you have a completely different take?

I had only seen the Brandy version as a child and watched clips of Julie Andrews and Lesley Ann Warren in preparation for the role. But to be honest, I didn't really base my Cinderella off any of them. Our Broadway musical was completely re-written by Douglas Carter Beane, with several additional R&H trunk songs added. So it felt like a new musical, where I was getting to create this role and really make it my own. I knew I couldn't be any of the women who had previously played her, so I knew I had to bring elements of myself into the role and just be truthful to what was on the page.

How did the idea for BROADWAY PRINCESS PARTY develop? (I love the mashup of princess songs you did at 54 Below.)

It all began in 2015, at the birthday party of my friend and music director, Benjamin Rauhala. Ben pitched an idea of a Princess concert to me, and I got so excited about it that I instantly created a spreadsheet of all our girlfriends' headshots next to a picture of which princess I wanted them to play. Six months later, we had our first concert and were astonished at how magical it was - Audience reaction was off the charts, and our talented 15-woman cast created this uniquely unified and inspiring environment of support for each other that was so vastly different from the competitive atmosphere we all experience at Broadway casting offices day after day. We knew we had something special on our hands as BPP started gaining massive recognition from its performance postings on Ben's YouTube channel. We were thrilled to get Susan Egan (Broadway's original Belle and the voice of Meg in Hercules) and Courtney Reed (Broadway's original Jasmine) on board as partners, both in performance and in business, to take our concert beyond the walls of a New York City cabaret club. This concert reaches such a wide demographic: Broadway fans, animation fans, families, and even costumed cosplayers! We started getting requests via social media to take the concert on tour, and the stars began to align to make it possible!

What can we expect from Broadway Princess Party? Is it more concert than theatre?

It is definitely a concert: Three unbelievably talented, real ORIGINAL Broadway Princesses singing the petticoats off every beloved princess song in the book! We're throwing a magical musical event and you're invited! And what's a party without surprises? We always have special guests, whether it's some dashing Prince Charming, an up-and-coming local talent, or even a royal celebrity friend of our Princess Posse. In addition, we get to share real memories and stories with the audience about our various experiences playing iconic royalty onstage. It's a night of entertainment for Broadway fans, animation fans, costumed cosplayers, boyfriends, girl squads, and families! We aim to reach the inner child in everyone who holds these timeless, iconic songs and characters in their hearts. You can expect to leave inspired, moved, and enchanted!

I see that audience members are encouraged to show up in costume. Will you, Susan Egan, Courtney Reed, and Benjamin Rauhala be dressed as royal characters?

Will there be any surprises?

We do encourage our audience to get into the festive princess spirit and dress up! And yes, we have Princess Prizes for those who do! The Princesses on stage will be dressed to the nines, but not necessarily in costume. We each sing so many different Princess songs and share our personal anecdotes, that we found it best if we get to be OURSELVES on stage.

In a social climate where girls are being told that it's more important to be smart or strong, why is being a princess still so appealing?

Princesses are strong and smart! I don't know why/how/when Princesses got such a bad rap. Ariel is only 16 and has the courage to face evil and give up her voice at the chance of achieving her dream. Belle is loyal, loving, brave, and headstrong! Remember how she yells back at the Beast and refuses to join him for dinner? I never could have stood my ground like that in her situation! Merida and Meg refuse to need a man! Most of these princess songs are not about falling in love or being a damsel in distress... they're about adventures and dreams! Wanting to be part of another world, curious to see what's around the river bend, desperate to know when her life will begin, venturing beyond her palace walls, journeying to the past, feeling called to the sea, longing for adventures in the great wide somewhere! These women dream and never settle, overcoming every kind of obstacle to get what they want. So, if you don't care to embrace the more feminine, gracious, kind, and humble qualities a "princess" may be known for having (and honestly, what's wrong with that?), there are plenty of other empowering characteristics these ladies possess!!

Tickets are available at https://tickets.liedcenter.org/1580/1601

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From This Author Christine Swerczek

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