Will Cinderella end up owning the ball? Perhaps, if Twin Cities-raised Broadway star Laura Osnes has her way.
In her first major performance in her hometown in more than a decade, she is hosting “Broadway Princess Party,” a Saturday-night show at the Pantages Theatre in downtown Minneapolis that swirls around the music of musical theater royalty. Think: “Cinderella,” or Belle in “Beauty and the Beast,” or Jasmine in “Aladdin.”
There’s room for princes, too: Reed Sigmund, a former Prince Charming in “Cinderella” at Children’s Theatre in Minneapolis, where Osnes cut her theater teeth, will be a special guest.
It was the show’s musical director and co-host, Benjamin Rauhala, who suggested the idea at a Manhattan birthday party three years ago.
“Within a couple hours, I had a spreadsheet of all of my girlfriends’ head shots and which princesses I wanted them to sing,” Osnes said. “It moved pretty fast to having all these talented women blow the roof off the place.”
It was a relief, she said, “to have all these women singing together, and not in competition.”
It’s been 11 years since Osnes moved to New York to play Sandy in a Broadway production of “Grease” after winning a reality TV competition. Her star has been flying ever since, including Tony Award nominations for playing “Cinderella” and Bonnie in the musical “Bonnie & Clyde.”
“I just look back and pinch myself,” she said.
She added, “Broadway is the pinnacle of what I dreamed of doing. I love the spark, the pace, the excellence in the arts. It’s a crazy city, and everything is a hustle. But when you love what you do, it’s worth it.”
This show started as an evening at a New York club; now it’s on a mini-tour that includes dates in Los Angeles on Friday and Chicago on Sunday.
The work has helped Osnes to branch out into the role of producer. She, Rauhala and Egan have formed a limited liability corporation.
“It’s not my dream to become a concert producer — musical theater will always be my first love,” she said. “This concert strikes a chord in me because it’s something I love doing. Ben and I wrote the first script, came up with the set list together and cast our friends. It’s very fulfilling for me. But do I want to start producing concerts all over the nation? Not necessarily.”
For one thing, there’s the chore of managing merchandise for the show: “We have T-shirts, tiaras, signed photos. All of our CDs.”
She’s also had to think about marketing, and her target audience: “We very much encourage people to dress up, whether 5 or 95. My generation, which grew up on the movies, is coming. We have mothers and daughters coming. We’re reaching a gay audience. The show also brings in the cosplay world.”
The critique of princesses, at least as represented in fairy tales and Disney, is that they always need a Prince Charming to rescue them.
It’s a notion to which Osnes has given much thought.
“Most of the princess songs in our show are not about love,” she notes. “Rapunzel wants to experience the broader world. Most of these princesses are about conquering the world and making a difference.”
So then: Is this a princess show without love?
“We do embrace the romantic side — that comes with the territory,” she said. “But this is a show that’s all about empowering women.”