Monday, February 23, 2009

Casting Celebrations 1: The Smartest Person on Broadway


Laura Osnes may be the smartest person on Broadway right now. She went from a dinner theatre production of Grease, sang her guts out on a TV show no one in the industry respected, got very poor reviews in a very poorly reviewed production, and walked out with a coveted replacement role.

From the start, Laura Osnes was my #1 pick on Grease: You’re the One That I Want, and I felt like she had the talent to make it. But the truth is, there’s so much more to star power than just talent. Sam Levene couldn’t sing strongly, but he was cast as Nathan Detroit in the original cast of Guys and Dolls for other talents. Gertrude Lawrence was also not a singer, but she starred in The King and I, originating some of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s best songs (for the record, every Rodgers and Hammerstein’s score has some of their best songs, except maybe Me and Juliet, but it always seems like the right thing to say). I haven’t yet seen Osnes on stage in a big Broadway show, but I know she at least has the singing talent.

And her recent casting in South Pacific proves she’s got something important, and whatever it is, she’s going to be selling tickets to South Pacific. If I make it to NYC this summer, South Pacific is now on my “Must See” list (it was with Kelli O’Hara, but with just any replacement cast member, it would not have been). And how many Broadway people are out there who are more experienced could have out-performed Osnes in the role? Quite possibly a ton . . . actresses who have been pounding the pavement for years, who have refined themselves with three other lead roles in Broadway shows, earning rave reviews for each one.

But they’re not the smartest person on Broadway.

Why more Broadway babies don’t audition for those singing and dancing reality shows, I’ll never know. It’s a long shot, but auditioning for a Jersey Boys replacements is pretty darn long too. And it’s probably much easier than spending all that time griping about Laura Osnes, Max Crumm, Constantine Maroulis, or Diane DeGarmo "stealing roles from legitimate Broadway performers."

As a performer, take every chance you get. As a writer, take every chance you get. There are darn too few of them that come along to pass any up.

At one point, Osnes’ husband (pictured above) had talked about possibly getting back to performing. After all, the story is that they met in a children’s theatre production of Aladdin. If he has chosen to go that direction, then let me tell you, he needs to take every chance he can get. And he’d better not be shy about using his wife’s connections.

Take every chance you can get.

Take every chance you can get.

Take every chance you can get.

the Broadway Mouth
February 23, 2009

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Constantine Maroulis has been doing theater his entire life. He graduated from the Boston Conservatory,and apprenticed at the The Williamstown Theatre Festival. Was Roger in the National tour of "Rent", did Sammy for a few months in "The Wedding Singer". Then "Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris" off Broadway. Got good reviews in the off Broadway production of "Rock of Ages"

So how is he " stealing roles from legitimate Broadway performers"?

Anonymous said...

I have the same question as above. And now Constantine is about to star in an original BW role developed with him in mind. Rock of Ages opens April 7th at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre. I just don't believe he should be included in the group you listed.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the two posters above. Constantine has paid his dues. Being on American Idol does not erase all the work he did beforehand. Since then, he has been working in theater in various productions. Now he is originating a role on Broadway in Rock of Ages. He got good reviews in the off Broadway version. He has also done charitable work to benefit different causes including Broadway Cares. Give the guy a break. He is a working actor.

Anonymous said...

....and here come the apologist nutjobs.....

Anonymous said...

I apologize for nothing. My question still stands, Maybe you would care to answer it?

How is he " stealing roles from legitimate Broadway performers"?

Broadway Blog said...

I changed some punctuation in the line to clarify my intentions. In addition to my love of Laura Osnes in this column, I've also written positively about Diane DeGarmo.

I was TRYING (not successfully, obvioulsy) to put that sentence in the tone of someone feasting on bitter grapes rather than coveying my own opinion. I hope it works better now.

Thanks for reading!

Anonymous said...

Logic is always wasted on Constantine fans.

Anonymous said...

{{I was TRYING (not successfully, obvioulsy) to put that sentence in the tone of someone feasting on bitter grapes rather than coveying my own opinion. I hope it works better now.}}

It does, thank you for taking the time to explain and correct.

Anonymous said...

{{Logic is always wasted on Constantine fans.}}

Don't choke on your bitterness dear

Anonymous said...

Generally, the Broadway performers that do audition for that pop star contest receive horrible drubbings. Those "Idols" with a pop-star resumes tend to hide it well until after the show. It really does require a different kind of performance, and also goes to show why not many Broadway performers ever cross over to pop stardom. The closest in recent memory was Heather Headley. (Melba Moore and Stephanie Mills, too.)