Although we're still nine finalists away from picking the next American Idol, this past Sunday viewers chose the winners of the Broadway reality competition Grease: You're the One That I Want. When the multimillion-dollar revival of Grease opens on the Great White Way this summer, its leading lovebirds Sandy and Danny will be played by two Broadway newbies: 20-year-old Minnesotan Laura Osnes and 21-year-old Arizonan Max Crumm. Both Osnes and Crumm started out as underdogs. Osnes, who was starring as Sandy in a local dinner-theater production of Grease when she made it onto the NBC series, was initially dismissed as too innocent. In fact, judge/theatrical producer David Ian told her that Broadway professionals would "eat her alive." Meanwhile, though Crumm was routinely praised for his talent, the judges worried about how his "unconventional" and "quirky" looks would work on a giant billboard in Times Square. Yet as the competition continued, Osnes and Crumm won over the judges and the American public, beating out two early favorites: blonde bombshell Ashley Spencer and longtime pro Austin Miller. But the hard part is only beginning as Osnes and Crumm head into rehearsals for their New York stage debuts. TVGuide.com chatted with them separately about their journeys thus far.
TVGuide.com: I blogged about the show and I was really rooting for you and Max.
[Laughs]Well, thank you so much. I'm so glad that I could win your vote! Just kidding. I'm relieved that the competition is over. It was like a five-month-long audition.
TVGuide.com: Were you confident that you could win all along?
Osnes: When I went to L.A. to audition I remember thinking that I fit the role better than some other people there. So I figured I had a good chance of making it to the finals, but not in my wildest dreams did I think I would win. But I kept gaining favor from the judges.
TVGuide.com: Did you worry that viewers might think you were safe and not vote for you?
Osnes: Not really. It's not like I was the favorite the whole way through. When I started out it was like, "Do you have what it takes to be here?" And I just kind of turned that around and used it to motivate me to be better. I feel like I gained the respect of the judges for doing that, and obviously America, too.
TVGuide.com: Had you ever auditioned for a Broadway show?
Osnes: Nope. The only national audition I ever attended was for Disney Cruise Lines.
TVGuide.com: Hey, it worked for Jennifer Hudson.
Osnes: Well, she got hired! I only made it to callbacks.
TVGuide.com: Do you worry that when you open on Broadway people won't feel that you've paid your dues?
Osnes: A little. But meeting the rest of the Broadway cast has made me feel more secure. They're just so cool and down-to-earth. They were so excited for me and Max. Getting that vibe from them has been very reassuring.
TVGuide.com: On Sunday night you were crowned Sandy about 20 minutes before Max won the role of Danny. Did you worry about who would turn out to be your leading man?
Osnes: I would have been happy with Max or Austin, but they are completely different and would have made for very different shows. But I'm close with both of them and have chemistry with both of them. Max has been such a great friend of mine from the very beginning. We met at the L.A. auditions and totally bonded, so I'm excited to be playing opposite him.
TVGuide.com: You postponed your wedding so you could finish out the series. Is your fiancé thrilled that you won?
Osnes: He's been so supportive and we're really excited to jump-start our lives together in New York. We start rehearsals June 11, so we have enough time to get married and go on our honeymoon before the hard work begins.
TVGuide.com: The judges really set you up as a long shot from the beginning.
Max Crumm: They totally did! I never thought that I would make it to the finals. It's so weird that I won! I was genuinely shocked. I had been preparing myself to lose. I kept telling myself, "You know what? They're going to say 'Austin' and it's OK. You're going to go on and do other things." Then they said my name. It still hasn't sunk in. I still feel like, "Really? I won this?" I almost didn't go to the original audition.
TVGuide.com: You're kidding. No wonder they nicknamed you "Slacker Danny."
You know, that's so funny. Kathleen Marshall [who will be choreographing and directing Grease on Broadway] actually told me the other day that she accidentally coined that term. Originally they weren't going to use everybody's nicknames on the show. They were just calling us different things, Derek was "John Stamos Danny" and Austin was "Harry Connick Jr. Danny." When they got to me, Kathleen was like, "What's that kid? A slacker, "Slacker Danny." And it kind of stuck.
TVGuide.com: Did she apologize for saddling you with that moniker?
Crumm: She said she was sorry. And I was like, "Hey, don't even worry about it."
TVGuide.com: Totally. Who cares what they call you? You won!
Crumm: [Laughs] Yeah. The finals were really interesting. Austin was like the old-school, slick Broadway Danny and I'm like the real, raw Danny. It's going to be a whole new Grease. I couldn't be happier about working with Kathleen, and I know that she's totally excited to work with me, 'cause she picked me as her favorite Danny the last three weeks of the show.
TVGuide.com: During the show, you revealed that you were involved with fellow contestant Allie Schulz, who was the second Sandy runner-up. Are you two still seeing each other?
Crumm: You know, we are a little bit. When I get to New York I'm going to take her out on a date.
TVGuide.com: So you have two big things waiting for you in Gotham.
Crumm: Yup. I'm definitely closing up one book and opening up another.
TVGuide.com: I heard a rumor that you had been cast in Disney's upcoming Haunted High School Musical. Is that true?
Crumm: I don't know about that. Maybe if I hadn't won Grease. But now I'm not available for a year while I'm under contract.
TVGuide.com: After you finish your run in Grease, will you look for work on the small and big screens? You'd be a natural on a sitcom.
Crumm: My whole life I've said to myself, I'm going to do it all. And I still feel that way. Broadway has just come first. I plan on pursuing TV and movies. I want to be a part of so many projects, the possibilities are endless.
Reality-TV fans can find scoop on Dancing with the Stars, American Idol and Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader in the April 2 issue of TV Guide. Click here to subscribe.