osmonds on stage

Joseph Peacock (left), Jamie Chatterton, Alex Lodge, Ryan Anderson and Danny Natrass. Pictures: Pamela Raith

The Osmonds - A New Musical

The Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham


In the early seventies there were really only two family Bands, The Jackson Five and The Osmonds. They both dominated the pop scene for many years but whilst the Jacksons seemed more focussed on the music, The Osmonds found a lot of their success in TV light entertainment.

The musical written by Jay Osmond seems a long time in coming and is a revealing and at times starkly honest account of that time.

The group from Ogden, Utah were guided by their military father and although the musical has a positive upbeat mood, it doesn’t flinch from recounting their strict upbringing with them being drilled like soldiers into family uniformity.

It was a household where individual personalities were sacrificed to the overall success of the Osmonds name. “It doesn’t matter who is out front as long as it’s an Osmond” seemed to be a phrase that was repeated over and over.

Starting way back in the 1960s, the boys’ initial rise to fame began as a quartet on the Andy Williams TV show. Their instant appeal led to TV contacts with their regular appearances making them household names. As they grew into young adults it would be clear that their life in the spotlight would always be at the sacrifice of a normal childhood.

Later the four Brothers, Alan, Wayne, Merrill and Jay were joined by younger siblings Donny and Jimmy but it was the addition of Marie that signalled the lucrative formulae of Donny and Marie getting their own TV series, were tensions really started to rise.

By 1976, the band were no longer in the charts and the TV show saw them head into massive financial investments in their own studio facilities to capitalise on their TV success. However poor business management skills would lead them to the brink of bankruptcy.


Georgia Lennon as Marie Osmand bringing a new dynamic to the narrative

Jay Osmonds view is the core narrative element of the musical and it neatly delivers the childhood traumas they faced, and their consequences as adults. It’s a story that is uniquely told yet is easily transferable to the stage even though it must have created some painful issues for the family in accepting its critical view.

Aside from the drama though, there is pure nostalgia that their music still creates. The Osmonds musical catalogue is not exactly memorable, but the key singles were world class. Ballads like Love me for a Reason and Let me In, had many of the adoring Osmonds fans present in tears to hear them played and performed live again so well.

The inclusion of Donny perfectly singing his teen hit Puppy Love was nothing more than a delightful audience performance singalong, with the boys milking every opportunity to get them involved.

This is a large cast and a well-produced show directed by Shaun Kerrison that includes a bunch of very talented youngsters portraying the band as children. The adult cast Led by Alex Lodge as Jay were all superb. With Ryan Anderson as Merrill, Jamie Chatterton as Alan, Danny Nattrass as Wayne and Tristan Whinchup as the teen idol Donny and, Georgia Lennon as Marie, all in fine voice.

Overall the quality of the vocal work and harmonies was outstanding with the live unseen and offstage band doing an excellent job of producing the authentic backing.

Bill Deamers’ choreography although original to the era and energetic, seemed a little over the top and at times interfered with the clarity of the live vocals.

This though is a show about nostalgia and its appeal is definitely to those who grew up adoring this pop phenomenon. Jay’s singular telling of the story is probably restricted in what he can say, but there’s enough to suggest that being at the top was not as endearing as it may have seemed. In the hands of an unbiased writer The Osmonds could have generated a musical that had a greater wider appeal than just that of its loyal surviving fan base.

However there are great songs, a lot of pure joy and superb performances that top out the dark family revelations that all go to make up this a well-balanced, retrospective view of this one time family, global pop sensation.  

To 29-10-22

 Jeff Grant


And they call it puppy love . . . 

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