If you weren’t around at the time, you may not be aware of how big The Osmonds were. They sold over a hundred million records worldwide and spawned hits for not only the brothers but also Donny as a solo artist, “Little” Jimmy (who wasn’t part of the group) and sister Marie. They were ubiquitous during the seventies with not only hit singles and albums but also TV series, world tours and residencies in Las Vegas. One of their biggest markets for them was the UK and they took over from The Beatles in causing mania and hysteria amongst teenage girls all over the country – and it’s those girls who are now of a certain age who The Osmonds – A New Musical is aimed at. Based on a story by Jay Osmond with a book by Julian Bigg and Shaun Kerrison (who also directs), it tells of their big break on The Andy Williams TV show when the four Osmond brothers (Donnie joined later) were 9, 7, 5, and 3 and tells their story as they became a world-wide music phenomenon.
Although Jay (Alex Lodge) narrates the story, all the brothers get their moments in the spotlight with Merrill (Ryan Anderson) wanting to leave the band to get married, Alan (Jamie Chatterton) isn’t happy as the de facto leader of the group, Wayne (Danny Nattrass) is unhappy with the band’s musical direction and Donnie (Joseph Peacock) as the youngest brother thinks his contribution to the group is undervalued although he goes on to have enormous success as a solo artist and teenage heartthrob. The whole family is controlled by their dominating ex-soldier father George (Charlie Allen) who controls his children as if they were soldiers under his command. Along the way we get most of the familiar Osmond Brothers hits such as “Love Me For A Reason”, “One Bad Apple” and “Having A Party” as well as “Little” Jimmy’s “Long Haired Lover From Liverpool” and Marie’s “Paper Roses” amongst others – there are thirty songs in total.
The choreography from Bill Deamer is excellent with a superb tap dance routine as well as a number of set pieces along the way. Lucy Osbourne’s set is fairly simple, made up of two tubular staircases and a walkway and her superb costumes are evocative of the era.
One of the standouts of the show are the young performers who play the brothers as children as they start out as a barbershop quartet before being discovered at Disneyland and going on to become regulars on the aforementioned Andy Williams TV show. There are three groups of boys who alternate and on the night I went, we had Team Ogden who just oozed charm and cuteness.
On the whole The Osmonds – A New Musical is one of the better jukebox musicals and would have been even better if it was pruned a little – at over two and half hours (including an interval) it just took too long to get to the meat of the brother’s story late in the second act. As well as Jay narrating there’s also some superfluous narration from “Wendy” (Katy Hards) who’s a fan in Manchester who writes to Jay as well as giving the audience some unnecessary exposition and then turns up in a very contrived moment towards the end of the show. The book at times is as threadbare as a piece of seventies cheesecloth although there are some nice lines such as “We’re the Mormon von Trapps” but those moments are few and far between – this show is all about the music.
The Osmonds – A New Musical is for the myriad of fans of the band and there were a lot of them at The New Wimbledon Theatre singing along, dancing and waving Osmond scarves on the first night of a long tour which after Wimbledon, takes in fifteen towns all over the UK between now and the beginning of December. I was a little surprised that they didn’t sing their biggest hit “Crazy Horses” during the show but they were saving it for the encore when they were joined by the ageless Jay Osmond himself although I can’t guarantee he’ll be appearing at every show!
Review by Alan Fitter
You Loved Them For A Reason. Now, for the first time, you can see this sensational new musical and relive one of the world’s biggest ever boybands. THE OSMONDS: A new musical tells the official story from Jay Osmond about the five brothers from Utah who were pushed into the spotlight as children and went on to create smash hits decade after decade.
New Wimbledon Theatre
Until Sat 27 Aug 2022
Princess Theatre, Torquay
Tue 30 Aug – Sat 3 Sep 2022
Tue 6 Sep – Sat 10 Sep 2022
Tue 13 Sep – Sat 17 Sep 2022
Theatre Royal Brighton
Tue 27 Sep – Sat 1 Oct 2022