by Monica Charline Brown
It is no surprise Laura Osnes has secured a spot as one of the younger generation of Broadway’s most charming leading ladies. Ms. Osnes is an ingénue, who is equally at home in the golden age era as well as the contemporary musical theater world. Her biggest asset, her unified voice, is sustained throughout all the styles she sings. The Broadway at Birdland concert series welcomed Laura back to the cabaret venue on Monday, May 30. Accompanied by Fred Lassen, her set included numbers from her past two solo albums, “If I Tell You – The Songs of Maury Yeston” and “Dream a Little Dream – Live At the Café Carlyle.” She has accumulated quite the fan base having starred in the Broadway productions of Anything Goes, South Pacific, and Grease, in addition to earning Tony nominations for Cinderella and the short-lived Bonnie and Clyde. I am sure everyone, if not already, became a fan after her Birdland performance.
I remember fastidiously following Laura’s rise to stardom via the television series “Grease: You’re the One that I Want,” a reality show created to cast Sandy and Danny in Kathleen Marshall’s Broadway revival of Grease back in 2007. Nicknamed “Small Town Sandy,” she carries her Midwestern charm today, even after years of leading lady roles in the Big Apple. Singing from the Rodgers and Hammerstein and Lerner and Loewe cannons, as well as a beautiful “Till There Was You,” the most surprising portion of the show was her unique jazz standard twists spun onto the traditionally soprano tunes “Far From the Home I Love” and “Green Finch and Linnet Bird.”
The most adorable moment of the night had to be Laura summoning her husband (Nathan Johnson) onstage to reenact their days as community theater understudies in “A Whole New World.” Amidst the Disney, the Wicked, and the exquisite Maury Yeston tributes, Laura excitingly debuted “Love Will Come and Find Me Again” from the Paper Mill Playhouse turned 2017 Broadway Bound production of Bandstand. As all great artists bear their soul to their audiences in cabaret, the packed house was touched and moved by Laura dedicating the tear jerking “When Somebody Loved Me” to her mother who recently passed.
It was truly my pleasure to be in Laura’s company for an evening at Birdland. I even won a Reese’s Cup (her favorite candy) by singing a line of “My Strongest Suit” from Aida in Broadway Trivia in the middle of the show. Definitely one for the books!
Birdland Jazz Club (315 West 44th St, NYC). birdlandjazz.com