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Laura Osnes and company in Cinderella (Photo: Carol Rosegg)

20 Questions for ‘Cinderella’ Star Laura Osnes

The actress behind the iconic rags-to-riches role reveals her favorite places in New York, plus what it's like to play a princess

Tony Award-nominated Laura Osnes has given new life to such celebrated Broadway characters as Sandy in Grease, nurse Nellie in South Pacific, Hope Harcourt in Anything Goes and Bonnie in Bonnie & Clyde. Since January 2013 she has been bringing her Astaire Award-nominated dancing and Broadway-proven voice to the lead role of Cinderella in an updated version of the classic fairytale with a Rogers and Hammerstein score.

NY: What’s your favorite part of portraying Ella in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella?

LO: I love getting to play this iconic character with whom everyone seems to have some sort of innate connection. Everyone knows this story, and, in our version, Cinderella is known for such attributes as charity, generosity and kindness. She gets to wear beautiful ball gowns, dance with a handsome prince and perform magical quick changes on stage eight times per week — what’s not to love?!

NY: You have performed a lot of Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals. What is it that you enjoy about their musicals?

LO: Their music is timeless — it seems to touch the very core of the soul and speaks to audiences young and old. We are blessed to have a 20-piece orchestra at Cinderella and getting to hear my voice sing these classic songs along with them is such a treat. The lyrics are surprisingly clever, poetic, imaginative and romantic. And my voice seems to fit so comfortably in the range of most R and H songs.

Laura Osnes

Laura Osnes

NY: What’s your warm-up routine like before a show? Do you have any lucky charms or unusual rituals?

LO: I like to get to the theater an hour before show time. I start doing my makeup and then get my wig on 45 minutes before show time. After that, I’m left with about 25 minutes to go visit Santino [Fontana, who plays Prince Topher] and some of the other cast members (I like checking in with my cast mates pre-show, instead of just seeing them onstage). I do my stretches and vocal warm-ups in my dressing room, and then I don’t usually get in costume until the “places” call. I don’t really have any specific pre-show rituals. … I just always say to my dresser, “Time to get dirty” as I blot my hands and arms with “cinders” as the final step before going backstage.

NY: What’s the most embarrassing (or funniest or weirdest) thing that’s ever happened to you on stage?

LO: I lost my wig during Grease once. Max Crumm [who played Danny] and I were dancing and did a big dip, and my wig fell right off. It was lying like a dead dog on the stage, and there I was bald wig-cap, spandex-wearing, trying-to-be-sexy Sandy. Max jumped in front of me, with his back to the audience (still dancing) and whispered, “PUT IT ON!” I scooped it off the floor, flopped it on my head and we continued the final bit of the dance before being rescued by a blackout and my exit for curtain call!

NY: What do you do after a show to unwind?

LO: I usually come home and have a big snack (since I don’t like to eat too much before the show), catch up on some emails and Words with Friends, or snuggle with my hubby and puppy on the couch for an episode of Downton Abbey.

NY: What’s your favorite thing about New York?

LO: I love the fast pace of the city, the ability to get anything you want at any time and that I run into friends on the street all the time. And of course, I love Broadway theater and the fact that NYC is considered to be the theater capitol of the world. And, there are so many amazing restaurants!

NY: What’s your least favorite thing about New York?

LO: Traveling in the rain, riding the subway at rush hour (especially in the summer in a non-air-conditioned train), traffic.

NY: What’s one thing every tourist must do when in NYC?

LO: Come see Cinderella!!!!

NY: Favorite only in New York moment?

LO: Besides witnessing the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade from the sidewalk on 42nd Street my very first year in NYC, my favorite NY moment would have to be attending the Tony Awards last year. It was an epic night of being surrounded by stars, wearing glamorous dresses, dancing at The Plaza and attending the after-party at The Carlyle until 3:30am!

NY: Best/favorite NYC celebrity sighting?

LO: Oy, I don’t pay attention. My husband has so many good sighting stories. The only one I can think of is Katie Holmes down by Union Square. But then she came to Cinderella with Suri and I got to meet them after the show.

NY: Cab, subway, bus or walk?

LO: Subway or walk.

Laura Osnes and Santino Fontana star in Cinderella

Laura Osnes and Santino Fontana star in Cinderella (Photo: Carol Rosegg)

NY: What’s your favorite New York restaurant?

LO: My husband and I love Casellula. It’s a little wine and cheese place off 9th Ave. We go there regularly and love to bring friends post-show.

NY: What’s the best pizza in NYC?

LO: Best I’ve had is Grimaldi’s in Brooklyn.

NY: Gray’s Papaya or Magnolia Bakery?

LO: I’ve been in the city for six years and have never had Gray’s Papaya. Magnolia is close to my apartment — I visit often.

NY: Brooklyn Bridge or Chrysler Building? 

LO: Hmmm, Brooklyn Bridge.

NY: Where do you go for a post-theater … coffee, glass of wine, dessert, etc.

LO: Casellula on 52nd Street near 9th Ave. Iguana and Glass House Tavern are also popular with the Cinderella cast.

NY: If family members were coming to the show, where would you recommend they eat around the theater?

LO: I love Landmarc at the Time Warner Center. Or anywhere on 9th Ave! El Centro is one of my favorites!

NY: Is there a special place/spot in NYC you love the most?

LO: Our private deck off the bedroom of our apartment. Talk about New York moments — my husband and I have hosted many a party, soaked in many a sun-day and shared many a romantic dinner on that terrace.

NY: What’s your perfect night out in the city?

LO: Dressing up and having my husband take me to some fabulous restaurant for an early dinner, meet up with friends to see a show or movie, then get a gigantic chocolate/ice-cream dessert somewhere close by before strolling home under the stars.

NY: What do you most enjoy doing on a day off?

LO: Sleeping in, painting my toenails, cuddling with my dog, grabbing lunch or frozen yogurt with a girlfriend, baking cookies.

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