Broadway legend Laura Osnes is making headlines once again. Given her remarkable career on stage, one would reasonably assume that her re-entry into the public consciousness could be attributed to some great new work in the theatrical realm. In past years, Osnes has starred in six Broadway productions, garnering a Tony nomination for her work in “Bonnie and Clyde” as well as a Drama Desk award and numerous Broadway.com Audience Choice Awards. Nevertheless, Osnes’ hyper-relevance has nothing to do with her acting chops, her nationally renowned voice or even her illustrious career.
It has everything to do with her refusal to get vaccinated.
Osnes was recently replaced in a one-night performance of “Crazy for You” due to her refusal to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. She was later replaced by former “The Little Mermaid” star Sierra Boggess. Osnes was later given the opportunity to submit a negative COVID-19 test, or proof of vaccination. She was then dropped in favor of Christy Altomare for a Disney Princess concert tour.
Osnes denies being fired from “Crazy for You,” claiming that she was never offered the option of routine COVID-19 testing. She late shared a tear-jerking Instagram post saying, “My case is personal, I stand by the decision that my husband and I, with input from our physician, have made for ourselves, our family planning, and our future…Every soul is entitled to live according to their convictions and work without being publicly ostracized.”
It’s an eloquent statement at the least. And yet, for all her awards and fame, I still find Osnes’ performance unconvincing. As any good actor knows, it’s all in the subtext.
First off, where did Osnes’ doctor get their medical license? The vaccine is now FDA approved, and the CDC has begged the American public to get vaccinated since March. Osnes mentions family planning as a reason for her vaccination status, which would be a nice sentiment if the COVID-19 vaccine had any demonstrable effect on long-term fertility. It doesn’t.
Secondly, did Osnes honestly believe that she would be able to find employment as an actor while unvaccinated? While I’m sure regional theaters and concert halls may welcome her with open arms, any theater worth its salt requires COVID-19 vaccinations from performers. Actor’s Equity demands it; if Osnes continues in her obstinance, she may have to bid Broadway a bitter farewell.
Finally, what on Earth compelled Osnes to consider such a selfish act in the first place? Imagine if you will, that she got away with it. She showed up to the concert unvaccinated, untested, and proceeded to sing. The results have been observed time and time again in the theatrical community. Unvaccinated troupes cause outbreaks.
Osnes is no fool; she knows the risk she poses and acknowledges it in her post. She just doesn’t care. Not only does Osnes not care about the people she performs for, but she doesn’t care about the people she performs with. She doesn’t care about the actors who’ve been out of work for a year and a half, the actors who left the industry for good, the actors who will never grace the stage again, because they didn’t make it out of the pandemic.
So sure, keep your principles, Laura. Defend your anti-vax beliefs. But don’t you dare paint yourself as the victim.
I have no sympathy for you.
Osnes would have us believe that she is the true victim here. A poor innocent woman fallen prey to the sharp incisors of cancel culture. It’s not the first time she’s done so. Osnes is vocal about her Christian conservative background, stating that she feels judged for being “so sweet and so conservative.” Even in ignoring the intrinsic narcissism in her statement, we are forced to deduce that Osnes is so deeply entrenched in her myopic realm of self-pity that she is incapable of processing reality. She accomplishes a truly miraculous feat: She manages to occupy one of the most privileged demographics in the world and still manages to feel oppressed.
I can assure you, Laura, no one is mad at you because you’re just too darn sweet. They’re mad at you because you’ve made it excruciatingly clear that you have no qualms about tap dancing around the health and safety of your castmates with reckless abandon. You’re fine profiting off of audiences that you may very well infect with COVID-19. People are mad at you because you get to do what so many artists dream of doing their entire lives and never achieve. People are mad at you because you have everything, and you’re throwing it all away.
Even in normal circumstances, securing the kind of success and notoriety that Osnes has is a herculean feat. Making it on Broadway is like getting struck by lightning. She is supremely privileged. Perhaps that’s where her ignorance finds a home. Osnes is a thin white woman in theater with connections through the roof. She doesn’t know what it’s like to be turned down because she’s not pretty enough, not well-known enough or the “wrong race.” She’s undoubtedly an excellent performer, but her success can be largely attributed to a system that prioritizes the work of the privileged. Tragically, I expect that we will see Osnes on Broadway once more.
Nevertheless, for the time being, the public holds her accountable for her actions. For the sake of safe, inclusive theater, I hope that the likes of Osnes never grace the Great White Way ever again. Her rhetoric is as toxic as the unvaccinated breath she spews forth with every passing note. The theatrical community is just beginning to recover from the horrific tragedies it has experienced. Let’s not let Osnes make it sick once more.