I’m happy to confirm for everyone that Laura is just as perfect in person as you always thought and hoped she’d be! Seriously, Perfection. She lights up a room (and all of Central Park in the case of the photo shoot) and she’s certainly been lighting up stages all over NYC since landing here. Laura is the girl-next-door with flawless star quality that has kept her career booming. It was so fun to chat with her about how she stays grounded and her amazing and unique journey to Broadway.
Laura is completely & perfectly Fit for Broadway!
BIOGRAPHY: Hey guys, I’m Laura! I love living in New York City. I am married to the most marvelous man, Nathan, and we have one child — um, I mean chihuahua named Lyla (after a character on Friday Night Lights — if you’ve never seen this tv show, start watching now). Besides musical theater, I love baking, scrapbooking, playing games, and creative writing. I am originally from Minnesota, and I made my Broadway debut in 2007 after winning a tv reality show that landed me the role of Sandy in GREASE on Broadway. I have been unbelievably fortunate to continue developing a career in the Big Apple doing what I love, while also balancing the daily responsibilities of life as a wife, friend, performer, auditioner, apartment-renter, dog-owner, and city-slicker.Thoughts on EXERCISE…
- I don’t have a gym membership but often will stretch or do yoga in my living room.
- Every show I’ve done since South Pacific, I find 60 seconds in my routine of the show to PLANK!
- I definitely feel more active and in shape if I’m currently in a show. Doing a show is the best exercise there is! During the between times, I’m a little less motivated. But I think everyone goes through seasons of feeling/being more or less physically fit.
- I grew up dancing. That was my Sport. I took tap, jazz, lyrical, and ballet technique at a studio for 12 years, and attended dance competitions with my class. I also took gymnastics for two years. My best friend and I used to choreograph dances on the deck and perform them for our parents in the summer.
Thoughts on DIET…
- I hate eating a big dinner and feeling really full before a show… so I tend to eat light (soup or salad), then go home and eat dinner with my hubby after the show… which is horrible because I’m eating so late. But that’s just how it goes. I burn too many calories running around at the show to not be starving after.
- I do love salads and fruits and veggies, but I also have a horrible sweet tooth. And I like to bake treats. Baking is my zen, ME-TIME activity. So, at least I get positive endorphins from that… in addition to a satisfied sweet tooth, haha. I also pawn baked-goods off on my cast a lot. I’ll bake cookies or muffins and bring them to the show (so I don’t eat them all at home! And then, my cast loves me, too!)
- Unfortunately, I’m usually too cheap to buy organic stuff. Though I LOVE TRADER JOE’S!!! I also kind of eat like a bird. My husband is the cook of the family, and if it weren’t for him, I’d probably live on trail mix, apples/celery with peanut butter, tuna and crackers, and chips with salsa, hahahaa. Good think he cooks chicken and fish for me every now again!!
- I’m not vegetarian or “pescatarian” by any means, but I don’t really tend to leap for red-meat. Steak and burgers rarely float my boat. I just prefer chicken or fish more.
Thoughts on WELLNESS…
- My step-dad is a chiropractor, so I grew up “aligned” and really loved that considering how much I was dancing! I don’t see a chiropractor regularly in NYC (only if I have a specific problem/injury), but it’s the first person I go to when I do have a problem with my body.
- During a show I live on Halls Defense Vitamin C drops, Ricolas, Emergen-C, Throat Coat tea, Ginger/Lemon/Honey tea, Grether’s Pastiles, Singer’s Saving Grace throat spray, antiseptic mouthwash, water, a netti-pot and a steamer.
- SLEEP will heal you from anything.
- I have a fabulous E/N/T doctor in NYC who I’ve been going to for the past three years in emergency vocal situations. She’s seems to prescribe conservatively, only what I NEED to get over my sickness, which I really appreciate. I’ve gratefully never had to take a steroid yet in my career, but I’m not against taking an anti-biotic if I have to. And I’ve learned that it’s okay to call out if I’m not well enough to do a show — that’s what understudies are for — though I hate missing performances and rarely do so!
- I grew up taking voice lessons for probably eight years, but I haven’t taken a voice lesson since moving to New York 7.5 years ago.
- Faith is really important to me. I grew up in a family that loved Jesus and my husband and I continue to make that a priority. We have an awesome church that we’ve been going to since we moved to NYC. It’s easy to let this city either swallow you whole or put you up on some golden pedestal… and my faith keeps me grounded, keeps me grateful, keeps me persevering, and keeps me living for a purpose greater than my own.
- I also love having solid relationships with my castmates. My cast is my family. And the theater is like my home away from home. That’s why I like bringing in baked goods and leaving my dressing room door open — I desire to be accessible and set a positive, approachable atmosphere as a leader in a company. Sure, I’ve had my fair share of “tiffs” with castmates… it’s bound to happen through hundreds of performances… but through genuine apologies and forgiveness, everything always irons out within a couple days.
Q: I’m blown away that you haven’t had a voice lesson since you moved to New York 7.5 years ago! How do you stay in vocal shape?
A: I usually find myself singing almost every day for one thing or another. Even when I’m not in a show, there’s always some new song to learn/rehearse for an upcoming concert, a benefit gala to sing at, auditions to go on, or neighbors to serenade from my shower, haha. So, I find my voice remains in shape just from using it all the time. I actually relish the days when I DON’T have to sing and can use the time to REST my voice. SLEEP is my “miracle cure.” But during particularly tiring seasons, I keep my fair share of favorite remedies close at hand. Warming up vocally is important, but I’ve found that everyone has a different method that works for them. I’ve had co-stars that need to belt out their warm-ups to make sure they have the notes that day, and I’ve had co-stars that “save the gift” and hardly utter a note before going on stage. Find what works best for YOU and your voice.
Q: What is your best advice for stage confidence?
A: Confidence is attractive. Not arrogance, confidence. Be proud of who you are and the gifts you’ve been given to share with the rest of this world. Only YOU can be YOU, so go out there and bring the best of YOU you have to offer in the audition room or on the stage. When I get nervous, I try to remember that A) I love doing this and this is what I feel I was created to do… so why should I be scared? B) This is one blip of time and the audition or the song or the performance will be over a short matter of time, so get over it! In fact, enjoy it while it lasts! C) Drink water, take three deep breaths, and say a little prayer. That always calms me down.
Q: Who or what inspires you?
A: My husband, Nathan, has been my biggest rock the past seven years. His incredible, thoughtful, generous heart and his staggering ability to be instant-friends with anyone is truly inspiring! My parents were a huge inspiration for me because they were always so supportive. Even though they divorced when I was two years old, both parents remained a huge part of my life. My mom sewed dance costumes and drove me to every rehearsal, and I even roped my dad into doing several community theater shows with me throughout my youth. Though neither of them were performers, they always embraced my love of music/theater and encouraged me to follow my passion & dreams! I grew up inspired by watching Judy Garland, Julie Andrews, and Shirley Jones in all the movie musicals, as well as hearing the voices of Susan Eagan, Sutton Foster and Linda Eder on all my cast albums. In addition, my faith is really important to me. Nathan and I love our church here in NYC and I’m continually encouraged seeing other Christian artists chasing their dreams and living life in New York City.
Q: What is your advice for those trying to perform on Broadway?
A: I’ve already said it — Be yourself. We spend our whole lives trying to be what they want us to be… We put unrealistic expectations on ourselves which only sets us up for disappointment. Keep training and working hard, get as much experience as you can, take classes, and learn from those around you who are more experienced. And be patient; There is no rush. Know that everyone’s “success” story is so completely different. I won a reality show that got me to Broadway. That doesn’t happen to very many people. Some graduate from Juilliard or NYU, while I only went to college for a year before I started working — and I wasn’t even accepted into my first choice school. There is no “Simple Five-Step Plan” to follow. Learn to follow your heart instead.
Q: Can you tell us what to expect from your show at 54 Below in December?
A: I am so excited about this new show. It’s called “The Paths Not Taken” and I’m doing songs from roles I either had to turn down for one reason or another over the years, or roles I made it to final callbacks for but didn’t book. Show business is full of disappointments and difficult decisions. But it also brings the greatest fulfillment and joy when the right door DOES open! I am so happy with the path my career has taken, but this will be a very fun exploration into sharing what else might have been…