Melody Monday: Laura Osnes shines in her Café Carlyle debut

Laura Osnes.

Laura Osnes.

Since her appearance on NBC’s Grease: You’re the One that I Want! reality series followed by her Broadway debut as ‘Sandy’ in Grease at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre, life has been a roller coaster for starlet Laura Osnes.

 After leaving Grease, Osnes has gone on to star in four alternate Broadway shows.  Directly from the Brooks Atkinson, she went on to replace Kelli O’Hara (Nice Work if You Can Get It) in the revival of South Pacific at Lincoln Center. After closing the show, she traveled out of town to the Asolo Repertory Theatre in Sarasota, Florida, to participate in the first-ever production of Frank Wildhorn’s Bonnie and Clyde. The production moved to Broadway where it ran for just 69 performances but earned Osnes her first Tony-nomination for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical. Currently, Osnes is originating and starring in the title role in Cinderella at the Broadway Theatre. However, some of Osnes’s best work lies in the cabaret scene.

Last summer, Osnes made her Café Carlyle debut with her perfectly-crafted concert. The concert, thankfully, was recorded live for those of us who couldn’t afford the pricey tickets. 

The music perfectly blends Broadway melodies with pop tunes, all arranged by Osnes’s music director, Fred Lassen. The cabaret showcased voices that have been seldom heard by Osnes in her Broadway career. Osnes was finally allowed to bring out her full belt and show how long she can hold a note.

The best part about the concert, however, was that she was able to tell stories through her song choices. Osnes introduced many of her songs with personal stories and she dedicated a song to her mom who has passed away the previous year, saying that she had “the best seat in the house.”

Osnes also invited many of her friends as well as her husband up to the stage with her. The CD version features her husband Nathan Johnson and Tony-nominees Jeremy Jordan (Smash) and Tom Wopat (Encore’s Pipe Dream).

My recommendations for songs to listen to:

“A Whole New World” (feat. Nathan Johnson)

It might just be the Disney nerd in me in conjunction with the excitement that I have for Aladdin finally coming to Broadway but this is a beautiful rendition of this well-known song. Osnes accompanied this song with the tale of her and her husband’s first kiss, which was coincidentally as the understudies for Aladdin and Jasmine in a regional production of the show. Even on recording, it really feels like you are in the room with the two and you can sense them smiling as they are singing. It is a brilliant marriage between vocals and the simplicity of the piano. The song can be highly overdone in the New York cabaret scene but this is truly a perfect version.

“Must Be My Lucky Day”

As Osnes put it in her introduction to this song, Frank Wildhorn can truly “write a tune.” It seems that you’ve never heard Laura Osnes sing until you’ve heard her perform this song because it really does bare her belt and the live audience erupts into applause. However, that is not to say the rest of the song is lacking. Osnes’s emotion really comes through in this song. The vocal runs compliment rather than overpower the instrumental, balancing out with a beautiful melody. The jazzy score is atypical to that of Osnes’s regular music as well as what we normally hear on the Broadway scene and is therefore a unique listening experience.

“Blue Medley”

Better titled the Irving Berlin Medley, the ‘Blue Medley’ is a combination of ‘Shaking the Blues Away’ and ‘Blue Skies.’ The song is one of the faster paced ones on the entire album and probably my favorite. The song is fun and yet sticks to the original vibe not only the album but also the pieces themselves. Osnes is still able to combine that with her own Broadway style, showcasing what can only be described as a Laura Osnes power ballad.

Do you have a favorite from Osnes’s album? Let me know in comments!

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