Tonight was the night we'd been waiting for - Laura Osnes at the Cafe Carlyle.

As is probably incredibly obvious to anyone who has read this blog over the past year or so, we are absolutely in love with Laura Osnes. For Exhibit A, please see here. So naturally, when it was announced that she would be playing a two-week engagement at the legendary Cafe Carlyle, we cleared our not-so-busy schedules and picked a date. As luck would have it, the night we chose to go turned out to be the same night that our other favorite Broadway person (and these days, it seems like he's everyone's favorite Broadway person), Jeremy Jordan, would be joining her onstage. After spending weeks trying (and failing) to contain our excitement for what was sure to be a fantastic night, we must say that Ms. Osnes' set at the Carlyle exceeded our wildest hopes and expectations.

Disclaimer: For this review, we’ll try to recap the set list in order, but please forgive us if we go out of order or divert on a tangent because the entire night is like this one long stream of awesome, an hour and a half that felt like ten minutes, and we honestly don’t remember the exact order of the songs, just that they happened and we almost died listening to them. Please enjoy our hyperbole and enthusiastic gushing over the talent and the beauty that is Laura Osnes singing. We're biased, and proud of it.

Opening with "How 'Bout A Dance" from a little show we admittedly fell head-over-heels in love with, Bonnie and Clyde, was a choice that swept us off our feet. To see Ms. Osnes perform her (and our) favorite song from the show from five feet away was stunning. She then moved on to her first story of the evening, chronicling her nerves at the chance to perform in such a historic venue with “I Have Confidence” from The Sound of Music with a few cute lyric changes to fit the occasion. Again, seeing her perform a song from five feet away that we’d previously only seen from the nosebleed seats at Carnegie Hall (another night of elegance and class that we will never forget) was seriously awesome because we could actually see her facial expressions. Although the stage was filled with Ms. Osnes’s four terrific band members and a grand piano, the lack of space didn’t stop her from doing a little tap number in the middle of her next song, “Born to Entertain.” Yup. The dance break added a great spark to a narrative song about how she was, well, born to entertain, and reaffirmed our desire to see her in a show where she taps. We don’t think there’s a big tap number in Cinderella, but if this is supposed to be a modernized version, we don’t see any reason why she can’t bust a tap move. Please?

The next section of the evening revealed the not-so-shocking surprise that Ms. Osnes was more talented as a 12-year-old than we are now. After explaining that she grew up wanting nothing more than to sing and dance on Broadway, Ms. Osnes charmingly played a clip of her pre-teen self belting out the Barbra Streisand classic “Don’t Rain on My Parade.” As an aside, what pre-teen even attempts to sing Streisand? Insanely talented ones, apparently. Of course, she proceeded to sing along with herself for a few bars until the recording faded out and Ms. Osnes, now in her mid-twenties, was left belting one of the most definitive female musical theater songs like it was no big deal. She owned it. Step aside, Lea Michele.

Ms. Osnes’ next two songs, “‘Til There Was You,” from The Music Man and “A Wonderful Guy” from South Pacific, highlighted a dream role that she has yet to play and a dream role that she’s already taken on and made her own. Although nothing ever sounds terrible when Ms. Osnes is singing it, hearing “A Wonderful Guy” live sounded infinitely more impressive than the questionable-quality live recordings available on YouTube. While we absolutely love hearing Ms. Osnes sing contemporary theater, there’s something so classically beautiful that comes to life when she sings from the traditional Broadway canon. The clarity, emotion, and warmth in her voice during these songs is almost impossible to describe. It’s like she’s actually a Disney princess and animated birds will start flitting around her at any second and chirping along in harmony because they were drawn in by the pretty sound? That’s the best we can do. It’s an inadequate description, but it’s all we got.

And yet, Ms. Osnes can totally rock pop-rock covers with ease as well! We have an ongoing wish list of covers we’d die to hear her sing, and on Thursday night, covers of “Bluebird” (by one of our favorite singer-songwriters, Sara Bareilles) and “Sunrise” (by Norah Jones) blew us away with the simple yet gorgeous arrangements that showcased her voice. When it comes to playing favorites, all of Ms. Osnes’s performances are like children - how can we possible choose between them all? - but “I Think It’s Going to Rain Today,” originally by Randy Newman, may be our favorite from that night (although that’s such a fine distinction, because we loved every song). From reading reviews of her Carlyle performance on the interwebs, we knew she was going to sing another song by Mr. Newman, “When She Loved Me,” dedicated to the memory of her late mother. To be honest, when she first said she was going to be singing a Randy Newman song, we were mentally steeling ourselves for this beautiful tribute that was going to leave us in a puddle of tears on the floor. But while “When She Loved Me” made its appearance towards the end of the evening (and left the crowd audibly sniffling), “I Think It’s Going to Rain Today” was an unexpected choice and a song we were unfamiliar with, and such a treat to hear.

Returning to a few more jazzy Broadway standards, Ms. Osnes dedicated Jerome Kern’s “All The Things You Are” to her husband after telling the most adorable story about how they understudied the leads in a regional production of Aladdin. This drew an expected and appropriate “AWWW” from the audience. A rendition of “Fever” switched up the mood and showed off Ms. Osnes’ sultry side, while “Femininity,” inspired by the realization that all of her band members, agents, and contacts at the Carlyle were men, displayed the sweet innocence that’s made her Broadway’s go-to ingĂ©nue.

As mentioned toward the beginning of this post, we deeply loved, and still deeply love, the short-lived Bonnie and Clyde. In fact, we’re jamming to it right now. An overheard discussion at a neighboring table (where Frank Wildhorn may or may not have been sitting) that included the words “The show should still be running” had us nodding in fierce agreement with people we didn’t even know. So we were pretty darn excited when it came time for Bonnie to reunite with her Clyde, and Ms. Osnes introduced Jeremy Jordan as that evening’s special guest. (Even more special was the fact that they are now both past TONY AWARD NOMINEES.) We’d eagerly expected them to sing a song from the show, and were thrilled that they chose “This Never Happened Before,” a song that was cut from the production before it came to Broadway (and in fact, before Mr. Jordan even joined the cast at Asolo Repertory Theatre) but made it onto the cast recording as a bonus track. Ms. Osnes then proposed that the pair sing one more tune together - as if anyone in the room would have opposed. Please. Although we also have a rather lengthy wish list of duets for two of our favorite Broadway voices, including “The Next Ten Minutes” from The Last Five Years (but really...just imagine), we were over the moon when the onstage couple used a discussion of their mutual sense of competition, particularly when it comes to playing games on their phones (Ms. Osnes is better at Scramble with Friends, while Mr. Jordan is better at Words With Friends), to springboard into “Anything You Can Do (I Can Do Better)” from Annie Get Your Gun. Verses included debates about who could sing higher, softer, faster, and sweeter. We’re gonna call it a tie. It was the greatest thing ever. The most adorable thing ever. And one of the loveliest moments of the entire night from two talented individuals.

And then, it was almost over. (Pause for dramatic effect.) Ms. Osnes’ final two songs included a tribute to Mr. Wildhorn with “Must Be My Lucky Day” and an Irving Berlin medley featuring “Shaking the Blues Away” and “Blue Skies” before warm, incessant applause brought her back to the stage with an encore of “Dream a Little Dream of Me.” And when she ended the night wishing us all sweet dreams, we couldn’t help but think that the sweetest dream of all was the one we’d just had come true.


Post a Comment