Laura Osnes slips into Cinderella's shoes

Associated Press
This undated image released by Sam Rudy Media Relations shows actors Laura Osnes and Santino Fontana in New York. Osnes and Fontana will star in the Rodgers and Hammerstein's "Cinderella."  (AP Photo/Sam Rudy Media Relations, Carol Rosegg)
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This undated image released by Sam Rudy Media Relations shows actors Laura Osnes and Santino Fontana …

NEW YORK (AP) — Notorious killers don't usually turn into princesses — unless you're Laura Osnes.

Less than a year after the 26-year-old Tony Award nominee played the murdering Bonnie Parker in "Bonnie & Clyde," she will become Broadway's latest Cinderella.

Osnes will star opposite Santino Fontana in a revival of the sumptuous Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II musical, which features a new book by Tony nominee Douglas Carter Beane and begins previews at the Broadway Theatre in January.

Osnes still mourns the loss of "Bonnie & Clyde," a show she helped nurture since fall 2009, but leapt at the chance to put her size-7 feet into fancy slippers. "Life goes on and other opportunities presented themselves. Bad things have turned to good," she says.

Osnes, from the Minneapolis suburb of Eagan, has been a rising Broadway star since winning the NBC reality series "Grease: You're the One That I Want!" in 2007. She then replaced Kelli O'Hara in "South Pacific," and later starred opposite Sutton Foster in "Anything Goes."

Since "Bonnie & Clyde" closed in late December after just 69 performances, Osnes has been singing plenty of Rodgers and Hammerstein: She was in a revival of their "Pipe Dream" for the New York City Center's Encores! series and starred in a one-night-only concert of "The Sound of Music" at Carnegie Hall.

Osnes is also preparing to release her first solo album, a recording of her Cafe Carlyle performance that mixes musical theater standards like "All the Things You Are" and "Till There Was You" and pop songs such as Norah Jones' "Sunrise." The album, "Dream a Little Dream," comes out Sept. 18.

She says she knew many of the songs from "Cinderella" but not because she grew up endlessly watching the 1965 TV movie version starring Lesley Ann Warren like her friends. (Osnes was more of a fan of "Peter Pan" starring Mary Martin.)

"I did know a lot of the music just because it's well known," she says. "I'm so excited. I get to sing 'In My Own Little Corner' and 'A Lovely Night' and 'Ten Minutes Ago I Saw You.'"

The actress, who just finished a workshop of "Cinderella," took time out to talk to The Associated Press this week about the revival, the new script and what she hopes to wear on opening night.

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AP: Douglas Carter Beane is known for his witty work in shows such as "Xanadu" and "Sister Act." What has he done with "Cinderella"?

Osnes: He has become very playful, which is fun. It's been interesting as an actor, and a bit of a challenge, to marry the two worlds together — the contemporary, witty comedy of what Douglas Carter Beane is bringing mixed with the classic, romantic, timeless music that Rodgers and Hammerstein have written. But I think it's actually going to work remarkably well.

AP: What can you reveal about the new story?

Osnes: I don't want to give too much away but the prince and Cinderella both have an obstacle. The prince isn't just the handsome Prince Charming — he wants to find more meaning in his life and Cinderella has another goal that she's aiming for besides just marrying the prince. So it's a little bit more exciting, I think. It just gives a deepness and a richness and another layer to a story that everybody knows so well.

AP: Where and when is it set?

Osnes: We're in our own land in Europe and I believe they're keeping it in the Victorian Age. We'll have poufy dresses for the ball. I'm not running around in sneakers. We're keeping it set in a period and set in a place that is still Fairy Tale Land, where dragons exist.

AP: You've sung a lot of Rodgers and Hammerstein songs. Why are they so popular?

Osnes: Their collaboration was so ingenious. They wrote so many wonderful songs that have been covered millions of times and have been added to other musicals. I don't know exactly what it was that made them so successful, but I think there's something simple about their melodies, and their lyrics are often imagery-based. They all tell stories in a beautiful way. All these songs are sung because they have to be sung. You couldn't say those words. They're so poetic and beautiful that you have to say them in song.

AP: What lessons did you take from "Bonnie & Clyde"?

Osnes: The thing about "Bonnie & Clyde" that was so fun was I got to break out of being the sweet ingenue that I'm typically pegged as. So now I'm back to my box of comfort, which is wonderful and, of course, I can't complain. I'm so excited about Cinderella, I can't even tell you. It is every little girl's dream to play Cinderella, literally. But I hope to not always get pigeonholed into the Cinderella-type roles. I'd love to go back and do something like Bonnie next.

AP: Fairy tales are back in force. There are the TV shows "Once Upon a Time" and "Grimm" and the movie "Snow White and the Huntsman." What's going on?

Osnes: Maybe they've been on the shelf for a while and now, all of a sudden, there's a sudden springing of interest back into these classic, timeless tales. "Cinderella" is kind of timely because there obviously seems to be a soaring interest and desire for these fairy tale worlds and fantasy lands.

AP: Cinderella is known for her shoes. Are you using that as an excuse to update your footwear?

Osnes: Did you know Christian Louboutin just came out with a Cinderella shoe? They're making only 20 pairs in the world. I want to get my hands on a pair and wear them for opening night.

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Follow Mark Kennedy on Twitter at https://twitter.com/KennedyTwits

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