After a 10-year hiatus, Laura Bell Bundy, a Tony-nominated actress, is back on stage (despite a broken toe from rehearsals), singing and dancing in the world premiere production of The Honeymooners. The musical, based on the 1950s CBS TV show, is playing at the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, New Jersey, through Oct. 29. In it, Bundy plays Trixie, a former burlesque dancer married to Ed Norton (Michael Mastro), who wants to get back into show business.
“Even though she loves her husband so much, it’s not enough for her to stay in the house and be a housewife. I think [writers Dusty Kay and Bill Nuss] felt that message resonated with women of 2017,” she tells ET, explaining that the character is not stuck in a time warp of the show’s 1950s conventions.
Originally from Kentucky, Bundy, known for originating such roles on Broadway as Amber Von Tussel in Hairspray and Elle Woods in Legally Blonde, first got her start on stage in New York City in the off-Broadway musical Ruthless! Britney Spears and Natalie Portman were her understudies. She then went on tour as one of the Von Trapp children in The Sound of Music with Marie Osmond.
That’s where a producer for the 1995 movie Jumanji scouted her out. Bundy was 14 when she played a young Sarah Whittle (played as an adult by Bonnie Hunt). “What I was nervous about was I had a kiss at the end, and I hadn’t had my first kiss yet. So, I was on a mission to get my first kiss the week or two before I filmed that scene. Otherwise it would have been years of therapy,” she recalls of filming.
Bundy now lives in L.A. with her husband, Thom Hinkle, a TBS executive. The couple tied the knot in June. The happy day came after some hardships for her family; in 2015, Bundy underwent open heart surgery to repair a ventricular septal defect. “Many thanks to the illustrious Dr. Zahn, technology & the congenital heart team at Cedars Sinai for patching up the hole in my heart yesterday. Now my engine will run more efficiently!” she posted to Instagram at the time. But it hasn’t stopped her from working.
In fact, in the two years since the surgery, Bundy, 36, has been all over TV, with a growing list of guest-starring roles on everything from Angie Tribeca to Scream Queens, most recently as Jessica on The Guest Book, created by Greg Garcia (My Name Is Earl).
The TBS series is a comedic anthology series about a small mountain town where out-of-towners vacation. It’s already been picked up for season two. “It’s going to be really different than the last season,” Bundy says, “so I don’t know if Jessica is even going to be in it.”
Meanwhile, on Netflix’s Fuller House, Bundy plays Ginger, wife to Joey Gladstone (Dave Coulier). “It’s funny, because Full House was my favorite show as a little kid. When they asked me to be Dave’s wife, I was like, ‘So in Wikipedia, I am going to be listed as his wife? Oh, yeah! I’ll do it!’” Bundy was in one episode last season, where it was revealed that they have four children and she’s a magician. The odd couple is well suited for each other, Bundy explains. “She is crazy. They’re both idiots and their personalities click. It kind of pulls together. [Dave] is amazing to work with and we can be foolish together.”
Bundy will next be seen opposite Michelle Dockery on TNT’s Good Behavior, which returned for season two on Oct. 15. “It’s such a dark, weird, sexy show. I always get cast in comedies -- so to be cast in a drama was totally different for me,” she says.
But despite all the TV work, the goal is to someday get back to the Great White Way -- and hopefully it’s with The Honeymooners. “I desperately miss doing Broadway. Comedic musical theater is what I do.”