By Steven Suskin
23 Sep 2012
After giving an impressive performance in last season's ill-fated Bonnie & Clyde, Laura Osnes continued to entertain us in Pipe Dream in March and Carnegie Hall's one-night-only Sound of Music in April. With a further R&H gig already lined up for next winter — namely Cinderella — Osnes stepped into the Cafe Carlyle this past June. A live recording of her act which has just been released on CD by Broadway Records, under the title "Dream a Little Dream."
Osnes was enjoyable at the Carlyle, demonstrating that she is indeed ready to move into the ranks of Broadway leading ladies. But there was something tentative about her performance. A lack of seasoning, or authority; at times she seemed unsure as to whether she belonged in such luxe surroundings. This carries over to the CD. Some of the selections, like "How 'Bout a Dance?" and "All The Things You Are," are just lovely. Others, like "Fever" and "Femininity," are less than convincing.
(Sondheimites paging through the liner notes might lose a couple of heartbeats when they see the listing of an unknown song by Sondheim & Styne. But Osnes sings no Sondheim; it's just a typo. The misattributed song is actually Marvin Laird and Joel Paley's "Born to Entertain.")
Highlights of the recording come in duets with two of Osnes' co-stars. Tom Wopat — who played a supporting role in the Encores! Pipe Dream — comes in for Frank Loesser's "Baby, It's Cold Outside." This is a wonderfully tuneful and clever counterpart duet when done right, and Osnes and Wopat do it precisely right. Then comes Jeremy Jordan, who occupied himself last season with Bonnie & Clyde and Newsies. Having watched him multiple times in those roles, I'm surprised to discover on this CD that the man is actually funny. (He only appeared once during Osnes' engagement, not on the night I attended.) The pair — who played those fabled gunslingers in Frank Wildhorn's musical — are here partnered as a different pair of sharpshooters, Annie Oakley and Frank Butler singing "Anything You Can Do." The two of them cut up so well that you can almost imagine them doing Annie. The Irving Berlin Annie, that is.
(Steven Suskin is author of "Show Tunes" as well as "The Sound of Broadway Music: A Book of Orchestrators and Orchestrations," "Second Act Trouble," the "Broadway Yearbook" series and the "Opening Night on Broadway" books. He also pens Playbill.com's Book Shelf and DVD Shelf columns. He can be reached at Ssuskin@aol.com.)