Laura Osnes comes to Community Theatre League this weekend

PHOTO PROVIDED Laura Osnes will be headed to the Community Theatre League stage this weekend.

For many actors, doing a show on Broadway would be the ultimate accomplishment. The bright lights, remarkable sets and enormous crowds of “The Great White Way” regularly flood the daydreams of thespians young and old.

Though very few will ever get to experience the thrill of performing on a Broadway stage, now those in our community will get the chance to spend time with one of the lucky ones who has.

Two-time Tony Award nominee Laura Osnes will be coming to the Community Theatre League, 100 W. Third St., for the second annual “Evening with a Star” fundraising event.

Osnes has made a big name for herself under Broadway’s lights, starring in many major productions, like “South Pacific,” “Bonnie and Clyde,” “Anything Goes” and “Grease.” She also played the title role of Rodgers & Hammersteins’s “Cinderella,” earning a Drama Desk Award along the way.

“It is really exciting and kind of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to shake hands and meet someone like that,” said Community Theatre League educational coordinator Seth Sponhouse, who helped organize the event. “She is working professionally on Broadway right now and she is doing the things that the kids and adults in our community really dream about. She is living that dream.

“It is pretty awesome just to see her, but getting to meet her and talk to her is a thrill,” Sponhouse added. “It is kind of the most exciting day of our year, and we can’t wait to welcome everyone to join us.”

The event is split into two sections, with a “master class” taking place at 12 p.m., and then a concert at 7:30 p.m.

The master class, which is for actors of all ages, will see Osnes provide a lesson on storytelling through song. It will also explore her method for bringing out different characters and using stories from her past. That will be followed up by a question-and-answer session with those in attendance.

When Osnes hits the stage later in the evening for her concert, she will be singing a variety of songs that she has done on Broadway throughout her career and give the crowd a more in-depth look at what life is like in her world.

“She will be telling stories on the behind-the-scenes things,” said Sponhouse. “She will take us through the whole experience of living as a Broadway star.”

Sponhouse said the idea to bring a major actor to the Community Theatre League as a fundraiser came from a desire to reflect what the organization is all about.

“We have to do fundraisers to raise the money for everything we do here,” he said. “We have seen some other successful fundraisers in the area where places have brought in a professional in their field, and it is a perfect fit. We wanted to do something like that, so we brought in a Broadway star.”

That’s a task easier said than done, as the logistics of getting a major Broadway star onboard can be complicated. Nobody knows that better than Sponhouse, who has been responsible for bringing in the talent for “Evening with a Star.”

“I didn’t know how to do it, but I spoke up at a meeting and asked them to let me try,” Sponhouse said. “I googled Broadway stars and was pulling up agent’s numbers; I was going through friends of friends, and really just kind of pulling on strings; I was cold-calling managers.

“If you call up these managers and tell them you are calling from a non-profit in Williamsport, it can be kind of a hard sell,” he added. “It takes a lot of luck and hard work to secure someone.”

One challenge faced by Sponhouse and the CTL is that at a moment’s notice, an act can have something else pop up and decide to cancel. That happened twice last year, but luckily Osnes hasn’t let them down.

“Laura has been really great,” Sponhouse said. “We have had her signed on for almost a year, and she has been really awesome. We have a lot of mutual respect.”

Though the event is only in its second year, it has garnered a lot of attention from local theater lovers. Many have stepped up to help bring Osnes to Williamsport.

“It is really great to see the financial support coming from donors and sponsors, and ticket sales have been through the roof,” Sponhouse said. “It is a huge undertaking to bring this kind of personality into the area; you are talking about a huge financial risk that the league takes on.”

Despite the risk, the CTL is happy to put the event on for the community and students of its programs.

“The students have been asking all year long who we are bringing in,” Sponhouse said. “Everyone is really happy and it should be a really great and positive evening.”

Tickets are still available for the event and can be purchased online at ctlshows.com or at the box office.

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