Up Close with Grease's Max and Laura: On Broadway, After Reality TV

By Matt Windman
28 Mar 2007

New Grease stars Laura Osnes and Max Crumm
New Grease stars Laura Osnes and Max Crumm
Photo by NBC

"How cool would it be if they got one of us together?" Laura Osnes said to Max Crumm, gazing up at the walls of Sardi's, as they lunched on salad and French fries.

"I want a caricature now," Max joked. "This place is awesome."

It was a characteristically quiet Tuesday afternoon at Sardi's Restaurant. Since there were no matinees on Broadway that day, the ladies who lunch were in short supply. Though they would have obviously noticed two young, bright-eyed actors situated in the back corner that were eagerly taking questions from a revolving chain of journalists, they may have not have heard of 20-year-old actress Laura Osnes of Eagan, MN, and 21-year-old gym receptionist Max Crumm of Phoenix, AZ , the two lucky winners of NBC's reality series "Grease; You're the One That I Want," the "largest casting call in theatre history," according to that TV show's co-host, Billy Bush.

This summer, Max and Laura will storm the Brooks Atkinson stage as Danny Zuko and Sandy Dumbrowski in Kathleen Marshall's Broadway revival of Grease!.



Where was each when he or she first decided to audition?

"I was in the shower," Max admitted. "My roommate knocked on the door because he was watching TV and goes, 'Man, there's this show and they're finding the next Danny and Sandy, and you should totally audition.' So, I said 'Okay' and went on the internet."

"I first saw an article in the newspaper that they were holding auditions," Laura said, "and since I was already playing Sandy, [I thought], 'Okay, maybe I have a shot at this.' It was worth going out there and auditioning for it, and I just kept making it. And, here I am!"

Each attended the open auditions in California. What was that first day like?

"I got there at 5:15 AM and froze my butt off in line for about eight or nine hours," Max said.

"I got in line at 6," Laura answered. "I was a bit behind Max. I didn't sing till 4:30 in the afternoon."

Did either mug for the camera, screaming "I'm Sandy!" or "I'm Danny!"?

"I did," Laura admitted. (Of course, in retrospect, she is Sandy.)

"They asked me and I didn't," Max remembered. "There were these weird people who would always run in front of the cameras and try to sing. If you were to see me at the auditions, I was just the kid who was sitting down, listening to my iPod or playing Sudoku. It was weird seeing the producers walking around and getting guys to put on blonde Sandy wigs."

"It was weird to think, 'Wow, I am one of 500 people standing in line auditioning for this role,'" Laura said. "Some are blonde and cute with poodle skirts. . . . How much do you do? Is it over the top? You still have to be yourself. . . . Some people were just trying to get on camera. Some people auditioned who were just not [right] for the role at all."

How did each feel about their nicknames from the judges? (He was "Slacker Danny." She was "Smalltown Sandy.")

"I loved mine actually," Max admitted. "A lot of people thought it was bad to be 'Slacker Danny.' But I secretly saw it as an up for me because Danny is a slacker. He's not 'Hot Danny' or 'Wholesome Danny' or 'Boy band Danny.' I was excited. It also gave me something to overcome, to show that I was more than that."

"I was originally shocked by 'Smalltown Sandy' because I hail from Minneapolis," Laura said. "But I think that made me relatable to people. 'Oh, she's done theatre in her hometown, and now she's going for this audition.'"

If Sandy hardly ever dances in the show, was it really necessary for all the girls to be subjected to high-kicks and pirouettes in Grease Camp?

"Kathleen said depending on the dance level of the Sandy, it could become a dance role," Laura said. "In 'Summer Nights' and 'You're the One That I Want,' she'll try to incorporate as much movement and dance as possible."

"I remember thinking why they were making all the girls do this," Max said, "because Sandy is mostly voice and presence. But Kathleen wanted to find a triple threat. She wanted to find somebody who's good at singing, dancing and acting who could easily be Sandy. They wanted to find two stars, two who could do it with ease and charisma and natural ability."

Let's talk about the revival. Will Sandy be Sandy Dumbrowski or Sandy Olsen?

"She is Sandy Dumbrowski," Laura firmly answered. "The original play version. I don't know why, but in the movie it's Olsen. Dumbrowski is more specific."

The T-Birds or the Burger Palace Boys?

"We're definitely going to be the Burger Palace Boys," Max said. "We're staying true to the Broadway show. The only thing that's really different is that I'm singing 'Sandy,' she's singing 'Hopefully Devoted to You,' and at the end we're doing 'You're the One That I Want.'"

What about "Grease is the Word"? Is that in the revival, too?

"I don't think it's actually going to be in the show," Max said.

"They said they were going to try," Laura remembered. "It might be in the opening. When we used the lockers on the live show, Kathleen Marshall said that's the vision she had for Broadway as well."

Will there be any kind of new directorial concept?

"This version is going to be about real kids in the '50s," Max said. "Kathleen's take on it is these normal, down-to-earth kids and their big imaginations."

Last question: When did Laura reschedule her wedding for?

"May 11."

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Grease will begin previews at the Brooks Atkinson July 24 with an official opening Aug. 19. Tickets are on sale through Ticketmaster outlets. Group sales for Grease are available by calling Nederlander Group Sales at (212) 840-3890.