“I started crying,” Laura Osnes revealed of the moment she was asked to be a part of One Royal Holiday, one of Hallmark Channel’s 40 original Christmas movies premiering this winter season.
Osnes and her husband, photographer Nathan Johnson, began self-isolating at their Connecticut home in mid-March (with Broadway’s Jarrod Spector and his wife Kelli Barrett) when all live theatrical performances including Broadway had been shut down. Osnes found herself out of work for two months, like most artists. Then the phone rang in May.
“I was shocked,” she said of the opportunity that popped up in the middle of the pandemic to be a part of the film. “I was just so grateful and excited.”
The filming location couldn’t have been better either — two hours away in the same state! The entire cast and crew quarantined for a week on set before filming in July. It also reunited her with Broadway’s Aaron Tveit (Moulin Rouge!); Krystal Joy Brown (Hamilton), and Victoria Clark (Gigi) who are also in the movie.
“Quarantined with this serendipitously *theatrical* cast of Broadway friends & veterans was just the reunion of humanity, jolt of joy, and creative escape we all needed,” she wrote on Instagram announcing the news. Osnes and Clark previously starred in Cinderella together. “I love her so much. We call her Momma Bear. She is a queen and she gets to play the queen in this movie. She’s so good and funny!” Osnes gushed of Clark.
One Royal Holiday, which premieres on October 31, marks Osnes’ third Hallmark Channel film that’s filled with cocoa, carriage rides, and Christmas carols. She plays Anna who offers a suddenly-stranded woman (Clark) and her son (Tveit) a place to stay at her father’s B&B. What Anna doesn’t realize is that the strangers she befriends are actually royalty.
“I kind of pitched the idea,” Osnes said of how their single “Winter Wonderland” came about. “I started talking to our director and Aaron about it. We started kind of planting seeds and brainstorming. They were able to arrange a song for us, which we just recorded.”
Shooting this film in the middle of a national crisis isn’t lost on Osnes. Most of her colleagues in the industry on and off camera are still out of work and might not be back on Broadway until at least next summer.
“I have felt very fortunate to be doing well and hanging in there. I’m trying to keep my spirits high — especially with the news of Broadway continuing to be shut down for another year,” Osnes said over the phone from Washington State where she was safely attending a wedding.
But despite a shutdown, Osnes has stayed busy throughout the past seven months with a handful of projects. She’s teaching masters classes and workshops remotely, she starred in a 9-episode, original digital musical, A Killer Party: A Murder Mystery Musical (Johnson served as a cameraman in quarantine),she’s baking cookies for Luminary Experiences (with a portion of proceeds towards The Actors Fund), and offering meet and greets through Broadway Plus.
“I have been so eternally grateful that little opportunities have presented themselves during this time of famine for artists, particularly Broadway artists because our livelihood depends on large groups of people coming together to spectate what we do live. That’s what makes theater so very special.”
Osnes also performed in two virtual Airbnb concerts with her Broadway Princess Party posse. She recently spent two weeks in Nashville at Susan Egan’s (Beauty and the Beast, Hercules) home for those Broadway Princess Party concerts. Conceived with musical director Benjamin Rauhala in 2015, a group of Broadway stars performs Disney’s favorite princess songs in a fun-filled concert-style show. Since Bandstand, Osnes’ last Broadway show three years ago, she’s had the opportunity to focus more on being an entrepreneur and the business aspect of the show. She teased an “exciting partnership” for Broadway Princess Party coming next spring that she couldn’t divulge more about.
All of these projects are new ways of getting creative while most theatrical venues stay shuttered and she says it comes with a cost. “Anyway to even make a little bit of money during this time has become so important for Broadway artists,” she said. “I don’t want artists to be taken advantage of in the process of Broadway returning. However, I think we will all be grateful for any type of work. It’s going to have to be a lot of communication, collaboration, and cooperation.”
And when Broadway does return, it’s done “where it’s safe.”
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