News Column

Eagan native Laura Osnes nominated for a best-actress Tony Award

April 30, 2013

YellowBrix

April 30--Eagan native Laura Osnes, who performed at the Chanhassen Dinner Theatres, the Ordway, Children's Theatre Company and the Guthrie before winning a 2007 reality-TV competition that took her to Broadway, was nominated for a Tony Award on Tuesday, April 30.

Osnes was nominated for best actress in a musical. She has the title role in Rodgers and Hammerstein's "Cinderella," which opened on the Great White Way in early March. "Cinderella" was nominated for best musical revival.

Osnes found out about her Tony nomination during a slumber party.

"My husband is out of town this week, so I had a sleep-over with my friend, Natalie, so we could wake up this morning at 8 and watch the nominations on TV," said Osnes, who interrupted a celebratory cup of chocolate peanut butter yogurt at Bloomingdale's to talk about her second Tony nomination. "Obviously, it's been a very wonderful day."

The wonderfulness was extended by the other nominations her "Cinderella" production received, including her Prince Charming, Santino Foster, a former "Hamlet" at the Guthrie.

"It's fun to be able to talk about Minnesota with him. We have a lot of friends in common," said Osnes. "I don't know if many people know this, but Santino was originally cast in a production of 'Aladdin' at Children's Theatre Company, but he turned down that role and my husband (Nate Johnson) got it, and that's how I met Nate, in that show. So I'm glad Santino turned that one down."

Tony night, June 9, will be a busy one for Osnes, who has a "Cinderella" matinee that afternoon, then will have to get dolled up for the red carpet and then will have to put the glass slippers back on for a performance during the Tony telecast.

"Last year, my show ("Bonnie and Clyde") had already closed, so I could just enjoy the day but having lived through it once may make it easier," said Osnes. "The nomination last year was a complete surprise but, with all of the nominations (from other groups), there was more of a thought that it could happen. Last year, I knew I wasn't going to win but, this year, I may have to take it a little more seriously."

Osnes has performed on Broadway in "South Pacific," "Grease" and "Anything Goes."

And actress Kristine Nielsen, who performed in the Guthrie's 2011 "Arsenic and Old Lace," for "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike." The Christopher Durang comedy earned six nominations, including best new play. The late Nora Ephron's "Lucky Guy" also earned six nominations, including one for Tom Hanks in his Broadway debut.

The Cyndi Lauper-scored "Kinky Boots" earned a leading 13 Tony Award nominations, with the British import "Matilda: The Musical" close behind with 12. Tom Hanks, making his Broadway debut, earned a nod as leading man in a play.

"Kinky Boots" is based on the 2005 British movie about a real-life shoe factory that struggles until it finds new life in fetish footwear. Lauper's songs and a story by Harvey Fierstein have made it a crowd-pleaser.

"I walked my dog early this morning so I'd be back in time to listen to the announcement. It's so great. It's so great. I'm done crying a little bit. But I'm still thrilled and a little stunned," Lauper said. The "Kinky Boots" haul did not match the record number of nominations for a musical, which is 15, set by "The Producers" in 2001 and "Billy Elliot" in 2009. "The Book of Mormon" nabbed 14 Tony nods in 2011.

"Lucky Guy," Nora Ephron's portrait of Mike McAlary, a gutsy New York City newspaper columnist who won a Pulitzer Prize for exposing that a Haitian immigrant had been sodomized by police officers in 1997, got six nominations, including one for Hanks as McAlary.

In addition to Hanks, the nominees for leading actor in a play are Nathan Lane for "The Nance," Tracy Letts from "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?", David Hyde Pierce from "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike" and Tom Sturridge from "Orphans."

"Matilda: The Musical" is a witty musical adaptation of the novel by Roald Dahl and is true to his bleak vision of childhood as a savage battleground.

Both "Kinky Boots" and "Matilda" will compete for the best-musical prize with the acrobatic "Bring It On: The Musical" and "A Christmas Story, The Musical," adapted from the beloved holiday movie.

The best play nominees are Richard Greenberg's "The Assembled Parties," Ephron's "Lucky Guy," Colm Toibin's "The Testament of Mary" and Christopher Durang's "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike."

The revival of Clifford Odets' "Golden Boy," a play about a young man torn between his natural talent as a violinist and the fast money and fame of being a boxer, earned eight nominations, the most for any play.

The nominations were co-hosted by Tony winner Sutton Foster and "Modern Family" star Jesse Tyler Ferguson. The awards will be broadcast on CBS from Radio City Music Hall on June 9.

"It's been so luxuriously treated by this production," the playwright said. "It was given such care and attention. I think you only get something that unblemished once. And so I'm relishing it."

Playwright Douglas Carter Beane earned a best book nomination for the lush, big musical "Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella," but not for his more intimate play "The Nance," although it earned five nods. A veteran, he rolled with it Tuesday morning.

"You just have to really enjoy it when you get nominated and you have to just not care when you're not," he said. "It's great to show I'm not just this one thing. Just as actors like to show off their versatility, writers like to do it, too."

Kenneth Posner had a great morning. The lighting designer got three nominations -- for "Kinky Boots," "Pippin" and "Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella." He will face off against Hugh Vanstone, the lighting designer for "Matilda: The Musical."

The hit-stuffed "Motown: The Musical," about Motown Records under founder Berry Gordy, earned four nominations, including Valisia LeKae as Diana Ross and Charl Brown as Smokey Robinson.

LeKae, who was an understudy or swing in four other Broadway shows, is making her Broadway debut as a leading lady and said everything in her life has prepared her for the role. She grew up listening to Ross and performing her songs.

"It's very interesting the way life works out. I left 'The Book of Mormon' last year in March and I was a swing for the show," she said. "It's amazing how life can change in a matter of a year's time. You can be swinging one year and be nominated the next."

Although the revival of Rupert Holmes' musical "The Mystery of Edwin Drood" has closed, it earned five nominations, including one for Stephanie J. Block, who played a pompous actress. "It felt really great to do that and have nobody complain," Block joked. "I'm so pleased that all the committees are remembering 'Drood' because it really was such a special show."

Her former "Drood" co-star Will Chase got a nomination as best featured actor. "It's easily the most fun I've ever, ever had onstage," he said. "I love the love that we've gotten today."

Scott Ellis, who directed "Drood," watched the announcement live on his couch with his 3 {-year old twins, Parker and Charlotte.

"I said, 'You may hear daddy's name, you may not.' And they said, 'Daddy, that's your name!' And then they got up and started playing. They were done. And that's all the perspective I needed."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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