Laura Osnes: A small town girl with big dreams

Broadway star talks about auditions, nominations, and being yourself

Broadway+star+Laura+Osnes+%28left%29+poses+with+a+Raider+Times+reporter+after+a+recent+interview+at+Harvard+University.
Broadway star Laura Osnes (left) poses with a Raider Times reporter after a recent interview at Harvard University.

Broadway star Laura Osnes (left) poses with a Raider Times reporter after a recent interview at Harvard University.

Raider Times photo / Aiden Carroll

Raider Times photo / Aiden Carroll

Broadway star Laura Osnes (left) poses with a Raider Times reporter after a recent interview at Harvard University.

Aiden Carroll, Raider Times staff

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Everyone has a dream when they are little of who or what they want to be when they grow up, whether it’s dancing, cooking, singing, teaching, etc. For two-time Tony Award nominee Laura Osnes, she has had the dream of being on Broadway since the age of 5.

The room inside Farkas Hall, located at Harvard University in Cambridge, was not much of a room but more so a hallway with a vibrant patterned couch and deep purple walls with the shining silver restroom doors just across the way. This was the setting for a quiet, peaceful, and informative talk with Ms. Osnes.

Ms. Osnes was in town for a workshop in which she would give advice to students about the auditioning process. The workshop was held in Farkas Hall Studio 303, which was a small, bare, grey room with soundproof walls, speakers, and lights. In the front of the room there was a large black, shiny piano, that looked as if it has barely been touched. The room filled up fast and by the time she entered the room had at least 50 people in it.

Before she entered the room with the Harvard students, she took the time to do a private 20-minute interview with the Raider Times.

Laura Osnes grew up in the small town of Burnsville, Minn., where she started listening to musical soundtracks at the age of 5. At her kindergarten talent show she sang a song from “Les Miserables”. In second grade she played a munchkin in “The Wizard of Oz.” She knew from a very young age that she wanted to be on Broadway, even though she said it was a lot of work to find success in it. 

I really love to scrapbook, I am such a nerd. I love pictures and I make scrapbooks for all the shows I have done”

— LAURA OSNES

She loves living her dream as a broadway star!

In 2007, she won the reality show “Grease: You’re the One that I Want.” The prize was a lead in “Grease” on Broadway and she was ecstatic.

Ms. Osnes said she loved making new friends but it was extremely hard for her because she missed her family. She illustrated that it was extremely stressful going up every week singing for survival.

Although she has performed in many shows on and off Broadway, as Tony Award nominations for “Bonnie and Clyde” and “Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella”, she said that she did not have a favorite (or least-favorite) role.

“It is like choosing your favorite child,” she said. “It’s impossible because each role has impacted me in different ways.”

Ms. Osnes expressed that she loved every role she’s been given, each role is different, and each role was a lot of fun.

Ms. Osnes is an extremely nice person and anyone would be delighted to meet her. Here is an edited transcript of her 20-minute conversation:

Raider Times: When you are not performing, what do you like to do?

Laura Osnes: I really like to bake in my tiny New York apartment. Baking is one of my favorite pastimes, I’ll bring goodies into the cast. I really love to scrapbook, I am such a nerd. I love pictures and I make scrapbooks for all the shows I have done … My husband likes to cook and I like to bake, so it works out.

RT: Is there something you like to do before you go onstage?

LO: I don’t necessarily have a ritual, but I like getting to the theater early so I can say hi to my castmates and stretch a little bit to get my body and voice warmed up. It is good to get backstage and take a moment before you go on for that 2 ½-hour show.

There is no plan to follow, but to follow your heart and listen to your gut.”

— LAURA OSNES

RT: Throughout your career, could you estimate how many shows you have done?

LO: Oh my gosh, I love you for asking this, I mean I don’t know maybe like 25 shows? I know I have done 12 or 13 shows in Minnesota, so I would say 20-25.

RT: How did you feel when you were nominated for your first Tony Award?

LO: That was surreal, especially for “Bonnie and Clyde,” I was not expecting it at all. To have it be a complete surprise I was shocked and humbled … My agent texted me saying “CALL ME NOW” and he told me that I has been nominated for a Tony Award, and I started crying. For “Cinderella,” I had won Drama Desk award and a Tony Award nomination was more in the cards. I slept over my girlfriend’s house to watch the Tony Awards together and she surprised me with my favorite peanut butter cup pie.

RT: What advice would you give students who want to pursue a career in theater?

LO: The three things I always say is be patient with yourself and learn from roles you don’t get. The second thing is be yourself, but as performers people expect us to be the roles we’re given, and if you come off as someone else it seems like you’re trying too hard. The last thing is to know there is no cookie-cutter, five-step plan. There is no plan to follow, but to follow your heart and listen to your gut. It is all just fate. I also think to never compromise, to be who you are in order to make it in the Broadway world. Training is also important, too.

–Jan. 18, 2017–

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