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The Laura Osnes I Know
Posted by: claploudly 03:07 pm EDT 08/17/21

Hey everyone, I didn't want my post to be lost among the many venomous posts about Laura Osnes below, so I am starting a fresh section. I am the founder of American Songbook Today a 501(c)(3) non-profit. I founded it in NYC where I lived for 25 years. For about ten years we brought singers from theatre, jazz, cabaret, gospel, folk, etc. into schools throughout the NYC area. Our mission was and still is to celebrate and preserve the American Songbook. One of the artists who I had the pleasure of working with was Laura Osnes. At threat time, she was starring in Cinderella. Our program was at P.S. 166, the Richard Rodgers Elementary School, located on West 89th Street.

The late Mary Rodgers Guettel, Mr.. Rodgers daughter and mother of composer Adam Guettel, attended and sat in the front row with me. Laura had already performed two solos and next was to be a duet with my friend James Tyrone Lane (A Chorus Line, Chicago, etc.). James, as Prince Charming, was going to sing "Do I Love You Because You're Beautiful?" to Laura. But instead, Laura turned to the audience and said "You know kids, I get to play Cinderella every night on Broadway. So maybe there is someone out there in the audience who would like to be serenaded this morning by Prince Charming instead of me? Immediately 100 hands shot up. Laura walked around the audience and went to the very back row where an overweight third grade girl was sitting all alone. Laura asked her name and the girl answered very quietly and hesitantly "Ledelia, Ma'am." Laura took her hand and said "Ledelia, how would you like to be Cinderella today?" The young girl resisted saying "Please no. Not me. I don't know how to sing or anything." "Oh that's okay. Really you just get to sit in Cinderella's chair and let that handsome James sing to you. Come on please? It will be fun."

Laura took her up to the stage and had her sit in the chair where Cinderella was to sit. Then Laura reached into her bag and, to my surprise, brought out a beautiful rhinestone-ish Cinderella tiara (which Laura had bought just for this occasion) and placed it on Ledelia' s head. James began to sing. Ledelia was so nervous she was almost in tears. But halfway through James finally got Ledelia to smile. She smiled as though she had never smiled before. We all applauded wildly and Laura said "Honey you did GREAT!" Ledelia started to hand the tiara back to Laura but Laura said "Oh no sweetie, that's for you to keep." Laura walked her back to her seat to the loud applause of everyone. Four other girls left their seats and sat down in the back row next to Ledelia, hugging her.

As we were leaving the school, the principal and three teachers (one a counselor) were waiting for us. "Michael and Laura and James, what you did for Ledelia this morning is something that we have been trying to do for three years. She has a single rather negligent mother and has lived a very rough life already. You gave her confidence and a feeling of belonging. We think you changed her life and we just can't thank you enough."

Now to those of you who wrote the vitriolic posts below, hoping to end Laura's career I would like to say something. One of you obviously exaggerated by writing you had spoken to 100 (really??) industry people over this past weekend who said they would never work with her again. I hope Covid won't last forever. But I know Ms. Osnes' career will. I don't think it is possible for an actress to be hired again and again by Broadway producers, directors, music directors, etc. to star in their musicals without having a stellar work reputation and a great deal of love and respect within this business called show. I wish she and her husband were getting different advice from her doctor. But I don't know all the particulars. And neither do you. I have two friends out here in Ojai, CA where I now live, who explained to me that they have medical conditions which led their doctors to advise them strongly not to get vaccinated. At least at this time. One of you even wrote below "Good Riddance." Other cruel wishes for her. I read Ms. Osnes' explanation and I thought it was clear that Guild Hall had not presented the option of being vaccinated OR Covid tested, which Laura has been tested for during the past months like the rest of us. I have been vaccinated. I have lost seven friends to Covid. And I wish everyone would get vaccinated ASAP. But I would never behave like grade school bullies to anyone. The one thing that our country needs right now is kindness, something Laura Osnes has in spades.
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