Review: Laura Osnes at Cafe Carlyle

© Stephen Sorokoff

As show business Cinderella stories go, it’s one of the best. In just a few short years, 26-year-old Laura Osnes has gone from unknown reality show competition winner to bona-fide Broadway star. After playing Sandy in the Broadway revival of Grease that was her prize for winning on TV’s Grease: You’re on the One That I Want, she’s gone on to starring roles in South Pacific, Anything Goes, and a Tony nomination for Bonnie and Clyde. Add to that acclaimed turns in the Encores! production of Pipe Dream, a concert version of The Sound of Music at Carnegie Hall, and the title role in the upcoming revival of Cinderella, and it’s easy to imagine what comes next.


A cabaret debut, of course, as has become de rigueur for Broadway leading ladies. And what better place than the swanky Café Carlyle, where the gorgeous, fresh-faced ingénue is delivering an evening that serves as both a showcase for her gorgeous soprano and an audition for upcoming starring roles.


Such as Marian in The Music Man, from which she sings “’Til There Was You.” Or Fanny Brice in Funny Girl, from which she not only belts out “Don’t Rain on My Parade” but also plays a tape of her singing it when she was just a child.


Although it contains touches of sensuality, such as an irony-free rendition of “Fever” and the skintight dress that shows off her perfect figure, the evening is mostly a wholesome one. Romantics certainly swooned on opening night when she brought out her equally adorable husband to sing with her on “A Whole New World” from Aladdin.


Accompanied by a first-rate quartet led by pianist/musical director Fred Lassen, Osnes alternates between selections from her theater repertoire--such as “How ‘Bout a Dance” from the ill-fated Bonnie & Clyde and a rewritten version of “I Have Confidence” from The Sound of Music—and such pop gems as Sara Bareilles’ “Bluebird,” Norah Jones’ “Sunrise” and a couple of songs by Randy Newman, including “When She Loved Me,” movingly dedicated to her late mother.


The opening night crowd was also treated to a special guest appearance by her Anything Goes co-star Joel Grey, who dueted on an endearingly ragged version of “Friendship” in which both forgot lyrics and an amusing “Pineapple Song” from Cabaret.


Although her crystalline voice shines, Osnes still has a ways to go in terms of lyrical interpretation and full emotional connection with her material. But give her some time—she’s still at the beginning of what is undoubtedly going to be a long and successful career.


Café Carlyle, 35 E. 76th St. 212-744-1600.