August 4, 2008

After Year in ‘Grease,’ Eagan Native Laura Osnes is Glad for the Memories — and a Break ‘Sandy’ Savors Role of Unemployed Actress

By Dominic P. Papatola, Pioneer Press, St. Paul, Minn.

Aug. 4--A couple of weeks ago, Laura Osnes was starring in a Broadway musical. Today, she's another unemployed actress in New York City.

And she's just fine with that.

Osnes, you might remember, is the 22-year-old Eagan native who won the role of Sandy in the Broadway production of "Grease" on last year's reality TV show "Grease: You're the One That I Want." The victory came with a one-year Broadway contract she and co-star Max Crumm completed after the July 20 performance at New York's Brooks Atkinson Theatre.

"It ended on such a good note," she said of her final performance. "There was such an atmosphere of love and respect in the send-off. I couldn't have asked for more on that day."

The year provided opportunities she could only dream of when she was working on the stages of the Chanhassen Dinner Theatres and Minneapolis' Children's Theatre Company.

"I got to sing at Carnegie Hall," she said. "I performed at the Tonys. I got to do all kinds of things that I never would have gotten the chance to do otherwise."

She did a bundle of auditioning in the weeks leading up to her departure from "Grease" -- for television shows, films and other Broadway plays -- and said she's continuing to hit the tryout circuit about four times a week. And though Osnes still sounds every bit as perky and enthusiastic as she did when she won the Sandy role, a year in New York has made her wiser in the ways of show business.

She turned down an offer to star in the

touring production of "Grease."

"They were a little stingy," she said. "I did my homework. I know what leading ladies make on tour, and I didn't want to be taken advantage of."

She also declined an offer to step into the role of Kate Monster in the Broadway production of "Avenue Q," even though her agent thought it would be a good move to step away from goodie-goodie roles and even though she could have started with the show the Tuesday after her "Grease" contract was up.

"It's hard to turn down work," she said, but, as a devout Christian, she didn't agree with the show's sometimes-graphic content.

Unemployment is a normal part of the cycle of a performer's life, and Osnes said she is "not freaking out" about not having another project lined up. After a year's worth of the eight-shows-a-week grind, she's enjoying the respite.

"We went to Six Flags, and I could scream on all the rides, because I didn't have to worry about saving my voice," she said. "I can have a glass of wine. It's just nice to have some down time. And, hopefully, another door will open in the next couple months."

Theater critic Dominic P. Papatola can be reached at 651-228-2165.


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