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Laura Osnes may be better known as a winner of a reality program where she won a starring Broadway part; however Osnes, from Minnesota had been chasing this dream since she was a young girl. She has had starring roles in Grease as Sandy, Anything Goes as Hope, and Bonnie and Clyde as Bonnie Parker for which she won a Tony. Like many a lady of the stage before her Osnes took up a residency at the Café Carlyle for a series of one woman shows. This album was recorded in June 2012, covering mostly stage songs; she also tackles a wider range of songs...
Laura Osnes: Dream A Little Dream - Live At The Café Carlyle. The album opens with 'How ’bout a Dance' (Bonnie & Clyde - 2 min, 37 sec) which lays down her challenge to the audience as the song provides opportunities for Osnes to glide vocally from soft to strident and back again. As an opening song it’s a good shop window for her vocal range.
The twenty six tracks on the album are not just full of songs as around half are consist of Osnes’s interactions with the small café crowd watching her show. Normally on records these are considered little more than frippery filling. The second track 'Intro Nervous' (54 sec) portrays Osnes as vulnerable and self-depreciating even if the segue into 'I Have Confidence' (Sound of Music - 3 min, 03 sec) although the audience enjoyed the joke. It’s another spirited version which, thankfully does not attempt to ape the original.
'Dream Role' (1 min, 20 sec) introduces some of her band before she launches into 'Till There Was You' (The Music Man - 2 min, 55 sec); 'My Story' (15 sec) prefaces her rendition of 'Born To Entertain' / 'Don't Rain On My Parade' (Broadway Kids / Funny Girl - 3 min, 49 sec) which she intersperses with the story of how she came to be on Broadway. She even plays a tape of herself, aged nine, singing. It’s an odd smash together of music and speech, but the force of her personality and chirpiness makes the whole thing work.
'Fever' (3 min, 30 sec) takes her story to when she sang this classic on television. With her choice of songs which cover Broadway hits, jazz and folk, the high technical abilities mean little compared to the heart she is able to project into the songs and whether she can get the audience to believe that she is actually experiencing the emotions contained in the song. Here she delivers a suitably sultry rendition of the song, even though the higher range of her voice comes close to breaking the spell in places.
'Understudies' (1 min, 42 sec) introduces her husband who she met during the stage version of Aladdin, in their native Minnesota. They had their first kiss during the show, which is sweet. So Nathan Johnson joins her on stage for 'A Whole New World' (2 min, 54 sec) and the two do a very Disney version of the love song. As love songs seem to be the main stay of the evening Osnes next launches into Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II’s ,All the Things You Are, (Very Warm for May - 2 min, 41 sec), having just sung with her husband she beautifully projects the emotions behind the song.
'Surrounded by Men' (16 sec) introduces 'Femininity' (2 min, 30 sec) a raunchy song full of double entendre. It’s a playful number and Osnes does well to keep the tone of the song humorous. 'Pipe Dream' (52 sec) introduces Tom Wopat who duets with her on 'Baby its Cold Outside' (Neptune's Daughter - 3 min 06 sec) , it’s another well-crafted café song with Wopat’s deeper range complimenting Osnes’s higher delivery. She then goes straight into 'I think it’s going to Rain' (Beaches - 2 min, 22) and it’s a brave girl who takes on Bette Midler and while she doesn’t have the deeper rich voice of Midler, she still sells the emotion of the song.
With barely a breath she launches into 'Sunrise' (3 min, 17 sec) which has a much more rock/country feel to it, originally a Nora Jones song, I believe, the arrangement is similar without being a copy. 'Words With Friends' (1 min, 18 sec) and she introduces Jeremy Jordan, who duets with her on 'Anything You Can Do' (Annie Get Your Gun - 4 min). 'Frank in the House' (41 min ) introduces another friend, Frank Wildhorn which allows her to launch into his 'Must be My Lucky Day' (Bonnie & Clyde - 3 min, 16 sec) another powerful song which is a perfect showcase for her vocal and emotional range.
'Best Seat in the House' (28 sec) is a dedication for her mother and she dedicates the next song to her 'When She Loved Me' (Toy Story 2 - 3 min - 11 sec). 'Blue Medley' (3 min, 48 sec) brings the tempo back up for the near close of the show, which finishes with the classic 'Dream a Little dream of Me' (3 min, 08 sec) which is a very sweet version of the song. The album contains a single bonus track with 'In My own Little Corner' (Cinderella - 3 min, 19 sec) which was an exclusive preview of the song.
The downloaded version comes with a very swanky booklet with shots from the show, presumably the hard copy will come with it also.
I was surprised how much I enjoyed the album. Although mainly stage songs, she has nonetheless chosen mostly contemporary tracks which blend in seamlessly with the occasional pop song, Osnes fans will not be disappointed by the final result, which reflects, what sounds like, a very pleasant evening out.