A Fine Showmance: Laura Osnes and Nathan Johnson Talk About the On-Stage Kiss That Changed Everything and Broadway Double-Dates
As the star of Broadway productions like Bonnie & Clyde, South Pacific, Anything Goes and Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella, Laura Osnes has been romanced by some of Broadway’s most swoon-worthy leading men: Jeremy Jordan, Paolo Szot, Colin Donnell, Santino Fontana… But her heart was captured long ago—before she won the reality show competition “Grease: You’re the One That I Want,” before she was nominated for a Tony Award and before she became Broadway’s sweetheart.
Back in 2005, when Osnes was understudying the role of Jasmine in the Minneapolis Children’s Theatre Company production of Disney’s Aladdin, she fell for Aladdin’s understudy Nathan Johnson. In a rare twist of theatrical events, the two ended up going on together after the actors playing Aladdin and Jasmine collided on stage and had to go to the hospital. It turned out to be a very happy accident for Johnson and Osnes, who shared their first of many kisses onstage that night.
A year-and-a-half later they were married and moved to New York, where Osnes made her Broadway debut in the 2007 revival of Grease opposite her fellow “YTOTIW” winner Max Crumm. Osnes’ real-life leading man moved off the stage and into the photography studio. He now shoots production stills and promotional photos for Broadway shows (including the scintillating shots for Bonnie & Clyde) as well as album covers and campaigns like Broadway for Ted Baker. Before setting off to celebrate Christmas with their families, the couple sat down with Playbill.com to talk about their holiday traditions, that fateful first kiss and how Johnson fends off Osnes’ onstage leading men.
You shared your first kiss onstage, as Aladdin and Jasmine. Was this kiss different than any other on-stage kiss you’d had before?
Laura Osnes: Our sides of the story are different on this one. I’m very professional, so a kiss onstage is a kiss onstage, whether you like the guy or not. That’s how I felt.
Nathan Johnson: It was different for me. It was so funny because I was totally mixing business with pleasure at that point. I really liked this girl, and she was coming down in a wedding gown, and she looked so pretty. I was like, “I’m using this, I’m really digging deep for my character right now.” All the guys in the dressing room were like, “Dude!! That’s amazing! You got to kiss Laura!” They knew, they were heckling me all day. When we actually started dating, I said to Laura, “How about that kiss? That was something right?” And she was like, “What?” and then goes, “Oh, that was business.” I was like, “Yeah, me too Laura, it was totally business.”
LO: (Laughing.) That’s what I said. I’m a professional and I have to do this onstage a lot. I know how to separate myself from it.
When did you have your first off-stage kiss?
LO: Our first on-stage kiss was around Christmastime, and I think our first off-stage kiss was December 23rd. My mom was having a big Christmas caroling party with all of our theatre friends and Nate came over. We were all around the piano singing carols, and that was the night that he kissed me off-stage—at my mom’s house. We were such good friends, and it just molded into more after that kiss.