Interview: Bonnie & Clyde's Laura Osnes and Jeremy Jordan

The smooth criminals from the new Broadway show on playing outlaws and the cast's hangouts.

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Photograph: Dale May; Makeup artist: Jen Myles using Makeup Forever; Makeup designer: Ashley Ryan; Hair designer: Charles LaPointe; Costume designer: Tobin Ost; Associate costume designer: Leslie Malitz; Dresser: Tamara Kopko

The stars of the new Broadway musical Bonnie & Clyde are both theater vets in their mid-twenties with killer rsums: Laura Osnes parlayed her win on NBC's goofy Grease: You're the One That I Want reality competition into a legit NYC stage career with parts in South Pacific and Anything Goes, while Jeremy Jordan has appeared in Rock of Ages and West Side Story, and just finished a critically acclaimed run in the musical Newsies at New Jersey's Paper Mill Playhouse. But this is the first time the actors have originated roles on the Great White Way, and they're clearly intoxicated with their parts.

Did either of you have any qualms about playing a pair of famous Depression-era outlaws?
Laura Osnes:
Not at all. I've always played nave ingenues, and it's really fun to change it up and be someone completely different. This role lets me explore that darker sensual side, and I also get to sing in a new style. I do big, belty power ballads with a little bit of country, soul and folk thrown in.
Jeremy Jordan:
I've never even seen the movie. I did all of my research by reading books to find out what happened in real life. There are a lot of misconceptions about Clyde; the film took a lot of liberties. There's no historical evidence that he was impotent or had no sex drive. In our show, you find out what Bonnie and Clyde's lives were like before they became criminals.
Osnes:
You get to see them as real people. They didn't kill and rob because they were on a crazy rampage, they did it to survive.
Jordan:
It's exciting to play somebody who could be so easily hated. I have to find a way to force people to empathize with Clyde. At the end, when they die, I want the audience to feel sad about it.

Do you think opening the show now feels particularly timely, what with Occupy Wall Street and sky-high unemployment?
Osnes:
We were just talking about that. Our show tells the story of the Depression, and here we are in a recession.
Jordan:
It's very relevant. Bonnie and Clyde grew up in absolute poverty. They didn't go to school or have any money; the only way they could figure out how to get ahead was to steal. The banks were foreclosing on everyone's homes. I think a lot of people will be able to relate to that struggle.

Sounds like the kind of material that could drive you to drink!
Jordan:
[Laughs] Since it's such a vocally demanding show, we don't tend to drink very much. If it's been a particularly hard day, we'll go somewhere near the theater that's quiet.

Any particular Broadway cast hangouts you can share?
Jordan:
Grass House Tavern, Sardi's, The House of Brews...
Osnes:
It really depends on the cast. There's not one bar that every theater person goes to.
Jordan:
Alcohol's alcohol. You'll find it in most places—especially in Midtown.

Jeremy, you're from Texas. Do you think Yankees are wusses in terms of our ability to hold our liquor?
Jordan:
I moved away from Texas when I was 18, so I left before I started drinking. I was a Goody Two-shoes.
Osnes: Me too! I didn't drink until I was 21.
Jordan:
I was a straight-A student and really meek. It's only now that I'm older that I'm being asked to play the bad boy.

Jeremy, there are two other actors with your name: a former '90s heartthrob, and a thirtysomething gay Canadian porn star. Has that ever resulted in any confusion?
Jordan:
I just finished doing the movie [Joyful Noise, playing Dolly Parton's grandson], and my agent had to do a lot of calling around to different movie websites that were automatically linking my name to the '90s guy.
Osnes:
When I first heard Jeremy was auditioning for Bonnie & Clyde, I looked him up online and found the porn star and asked the casting guys if they were serious!
Jordan:
[Laughs] Actually, I played a gay call boy in the first professional show I ever did. The guy who was acting opposite me looked me up and was like, 'Oh, my God: I'm working with a gay porn star! I guess he's trying to go legit.' It's time for me to take my name back.

Bonnie & Clyde starts previews Nov 4 and opens Dec 1 at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre.

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