BROADWAYBLOGSPOT 101 is thrilled to bring you Laura Osnes! Laura made a splash on Broadway and on television, for that matter, by competing and winning on Grease: You’re The One That I Want and has really made her mark with five Broadway shows under her belt and two Tony nominations. Check out Laura’s great Q & A!
BB: Where did you go to college for theatre and/or learn the trade in order to move to NYC to pursue theatre as a career?
LO: I only went to college for one year, studying in the BFA Musical Theater program at the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point. After my freshman year there, I got offered a year-long apprenticeship position at a professional theater back in Minneapolis, MN (where I'm from). So I decided to leave school and just was fortunate to continue working after that. I grew up doing lots of community and professional theater in Minneapolis/St. Paul and feel like I learned the most through experience. I also started taking dance lessons at age five and voice lessons at age nine.
BB: As far as schooling/training what were some great attributes to studying there?
LO: Stevens Point has a surprisingly strong Musical Theater program. I actually had the opportunity to visit many prestigious theater colleges all over the country while I was scouting for schools (NYU, Carnegie Melon, Boston Conservatory, Cincinnati Conservatory, Ithica, Michigan, North Carolina School of the Arts, AMDA), but I could only see myself at two of them. It's amazing how you can really get a feel for a campus and if it's going to be a right fit for you personally. After auditioning for just Cincinnati and Stevens Point, I didn't make it into the program at Cincinnati so went to Stevens Point. I liked the small class size (seven freshman accepted) and the truly well-rounded training in dance, acting, singing, literature, theater-history, and audition Preparation. The teaching style was generally encouraging and supportive of each student’s unique talents and strengths.
BB: What is one thing that you learned while actively pursuing a NY stage career that you wish you would have known/learned before moving to the city that you could impart to others?
LO: Yes, it's a competitive industry, but everyone is nice!! Directors and casting directors want you to do well! They are rooting for you. Keep persevering through the open calls and dry times, because once you do one small thing, someone who saw you in that will recruit you to do something bigger. It's actually a really small, tight-knit community once you manage to break into it!
BB: How was the transition from going from college to pursuing a NY career? What did you do to adjust/conquer NYC.
LO: After my year at college, I went back to Minneapolis to work professionally for a year and a half before competing on a TV reality show that actually cast me in GREASE on Broadway. So, I have a very unconventional story; I was blessed with the security of a year-long Broadway contract when I moved to New York. I finally signed with an agent a few months after I moved to NYC (I hadn't had one previously) and had to audition a lot before booking my next Broadway show, SOUTH PACIFIC. Save money when you're making it so you can live through the times when you're not! :-)
BB: How/when did you get your first Broadway job?
LO: I competed in a TV reality show on NBC called Grease: You're The One That I Want, a national talent search to find the next Sandy and Danny in a revival of GREASE on Broadway. At age 20, I flew to LA and waited in line with thousands of hopefuls. Week after week, I sang for my survival on national television, American fans called in and voted, and I actually ended up winning that competition! My fiance and I got married and moved to New York together in 2007, and I got to play Sandy on Broadway for a year!
BB: Can you offer a piece of audition advice?
LO: Preparation is key. The more prepared you are, the less nervous you will feel. I try not to get too attached though, because then it's hard to let go; after the audition, I forget about it. I expect to hear nothing, so if I do get some good news, it's a welcome surprise, not an expectation. Every audition won't be perfect, but it's important to understand you did the best you could. There are too many elements outside of your control to take rejection too personally. I like to take three deep breaths, have a sip of water, and say a little prayer before I walk in the room.
BB: What was/is your day job or other ventures between gigs or do you do both simultaneously?
LO: I haven't had to have an official day job since moving to NYC, but I do tons of concert gigs, occasional recordings, commercial voiceovers, or web series appearances in addition to currently being in Broadway's CINDERELLA. I just recorded my second solo album, If I Tell You, a couple weeks ago and it will be released on June 4!
BB: Any words of inspiration or anything else you want to say/impart?
LO: Everyone's "success story" is very different. There is no cookie-cutter "Five Step Plan" of how to make it on Broadway. Work hard, stay true to yourself, remain humble and positive, and get all the experience you possibly can. The right things happen at the right time.
Laura Osnes was nominated for a Tony award for her portrayal in the Broadway smash CINDERELLA and previously for her last appearance as Bonnie Parker in BONNIE AND CLYDE. Other Broadway: Hope Harcourt in ANYTHING GOES (Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle and Astaire noms.), Nellie Forbush in LCT’s SOUTH PACIFIC, Sandy in GREASE, NYC/Regional: PIPE DREAM (Encores!), Carnegie Hall’s THE SOUND OF MUSIC concert, SONDHEIM: THE BIRTHDAY CONCERT, THE KENNEDY CENTER HONORS 2011 and 2012. Laura has released several solo albums, Dream a Little Dream: Live at the Cafe Carlyle, and If I Tell You: Songs of Maury Yeston.