Laura Osnes is the Busiest It-Girl on Broadway (PS, Producers: She’d like to do Carousel)

TheaterMania speed chats with Broadway’s busiest ingenue.

Laura Osnes
Laura Osnes
(© David Gordon)

2012 has been a banner year for Laura Osnes, but that won’t come as a surprise to anyone who has followed her steady ascent from reality show contestant on NBC’s 2007 series Grease: You’re the One That I Want (which landed her on the Great White Way) to big Broadway star.

Within the past twelve months, the 27-year-old has received a Tony Award nomination for playing Bonnie Parker in the short-lived musical Bonnie and Clyde, starred in presentations of two Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals (a Carnegie Hall benefit concert of The Sound of Music and the New York City Center Encores! production of Pipe Dream), and has been featured on three CDs, including the cast recordings of Bonnie & Clyde and Pipe Dream, as well as her first solo disc, Dream a Little Dream: Live at the Café Carlyle.

The versatile performer, who followed up her Grease fame with acclaimed turns as Nellie Forbush in Lincoln Center Theater’s South Pacific and Hope Harcourt in Roundabout Theatre Company’s Anything Goes, is looking at a busy end to her 2012, and an even busier start to her 2013. She’s performing with the cast of the upcoming Broadway musical Cinderella (in which she plays the title role) as part of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on Thursday; appearing at 54 Below, November 27-December 1, and taking part in the popular Broadway Unplugged concert at The Town Hall on Monday, December 3. During a recent press preview in honor of her upcoming 54 Below shows, TheaterMania chatted with Osnes about her truly enviable year.

How does it feel to be featured on three CDs in the same year?

It’s surreal. I’ve always wanted to be on an original cast recording. I grew up listening to them, and now to know that my voice is heard on three or four of them is just surreal. I never thought I would be that person.

What was it like getting to record your own solo album at the Café Carlyle?

It was a little intimidating, but it was really a wonderful experience. The space is legendary, and getting to join the list of artists who have performed there was spectacular. Getting to have the concert recorded for posterity’s sake, and for me to have and my family to have, is very special — especially for my first solo album. It’s my story, it’s me, it’s the stories I chose.

Your version of “When She Loved Me” made me cry as I was listening to it.

Thank you! If I can impact people with my music, that’s what I want. I have met people who’ve lost parents and family members who’ve messaged me to say how much they loved that song. That’s what’s most fulfilling.

Is getting to play Cinderella a dream come true?

Oh, absolutely! I get to be a princess. I get to wear glass slippers, and a ball gown, and ride in a pumpkin carriage. We did a four-week workshop in July that was fully staged and choreographed. It’s nice to get that kind of a head start because we’re not going out of town before Broadway.

You and the cast get to perform during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Is this your first time doing that?

It is! My first year in New York, I had to go and watch it, but I’ve never been in the parade before. And I am so excited. We do have to be ready at 5am, so I’m sure that day I’ll be regretting it. (Laughs) No, I am not regretting it! It’s going to be really special and my family is thrilled that I’m going to get to be on TV.

Switching gears, when was the first time you came across Maury Yeston’s song cycle “December Songs,” which will be part of your 54 Below program?

I sang “I Had a Dream About You,” which is one of the songs, at a benefit I did over the summer. Then a month later, Maury Yeston contacted me and said “Would you like to do a concert of my songs, including “December Songs,” at 54 Below?” And I said “Of course!” The melodies are so beautiful and it’s so fun to sing.

How does 54 Below compare to the other venues in which you’ve sung?

It’s gorgeous here. It’s so classy and intimate, yet a little more spacious than other cabarets I’ve played. It’s also obviously the coolest new place to play in town, so I’m honored to get to perform here.

You have already starred in three Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals (South Pacific, The Sound of Music, and Pipe Dream) and Cinderella is next. Would you like to do Oklahoma! or Carousel at some point?

Carousel, please! I would die to do that. But I have to say that getting to tackle Maria in The Sound of Music at Carnegie Hall was surreal. When I heard my voice, it was all I could do to keep myself from doing a British accent and sound like Julie Andrews!