The Osmonds Musical
One Family, 60 years, 100 Million Records
Continuing in the theme of other biographical musicals (Buddy, Jersey Boys, Beautiful) The Osmonds tells the life stories of the Utah family. Possibly the worlds's first Boy Band we are taken through their rise, fall and re-rise in popular music and how it could have rent asunder the precocious but universally talented. Written by one of the middle brothers, drummer Jay (Alex Lodge) who narrates the story, this peels away the lesser known layers of the family, their relationship with their father George (Charlie Allen) and mother Olive (Nicola Bryan) and how the dynamic shifted within the group and the family as a whole.
The origins of The Osmonds were founded when the boys were very young and began preforming as a barber shop group. Former soldier George coached, ney trained, the boys to follow strict orders, practise for perfection and always follow their mantra of "Faith, Family, Career". (His other ever-present statement was “It doesn’t matter who’s out in front, as long as it’s an Osmond.”)
Brilliantly portraying the younger boys in these flashback sections were Nicholas Teixiera, Oliver Forde, Jack Sherran, Louie Stow, and Lonan Johnson - their harmonies, stage presence and (sorry boys) sheer cuteness elicited loads of adoring 'aws' from the audience, especially the mums & grandmothers.
Their first real break came performing for Walt Disney but it was on the Andy Williams (played by Matthew Ives) that they really came into the public awareness. Still very young, they performed every week for over 7 years until producer Mike Curb (Aidan Harkins) took them out of the variety show and onto what they would call phase 2. Here they rivalled other great family groups, including The Jacksons, playing bubble gum pop and having the first of their mega million selling records.
At this point the group were Merrill (Ryan Anderson), Alan (Alex Cardall), Jay, Wayne (Danny Nattrass) and the youngest, Donny (Joseph Peacock), accomplished musicians in their own rights, the boys were eager to record and perform their own music, in particular a more edgier, rock style, so after much persuasion (especially of father George who still held very firm spiritual and moral beliefs) they began their phase 3. At this time they also introduced Marie (Georgia Lennon) to the group; Marie would add a softer, and more often than not, more country feel to songs, eventually finding huge success partnering with Donny and producing the Donny & Marie Show for ABC television.
The family's success was not limited to the US - they had equally adoring fans in Europe, especially in the UK where youngest Osmond 'Lil' Jimmy (Lyle Wren) had the Christmas No. 1 hit with "Long Haired Lover from Liverpool), but there were already cracks appearing in the family dynamic. Desperate to return to Utah and to take more creative and operational control, Merrill and Alan persuaded the rest of the family to invest all their wealth into creating The Osmonds Studios - a music and film recoding facility. Believing they would be backed by the income from the ABC shows, the 2 eldest brothers ploughed everything the family had into making this new all-encompassing venture a hit, but sadly, dropped by the networks in light of shifting audiences, it turned out to be a massive financial millstone and left them on the brink of bankruptcy.
The rest of the 80s and 90s saw the family performing simply to repay their creditors, never really reaching the heights of performing or producing again. This show is perfect for fans of The Osmonds; they will love the routines, the songs (of which many were covered by future groups) and the dynamic of the brothers. Many will also be intrigued to see how things went from very right to very wrong. For 'non-fans' it is a fun production; there is not much peril in the way the father George controls the group, there is no sign of wayward behaviour, no straying into the usual vices of rock 'n' roll and certainly no side stories to detract from re-telling the family's journey. Director Shaun Kerrison lifts much from the
60s and 70s TV appearances; bright lights (Ben Cracknall), fun sets (Lucy Osborne), great costumes & make up (Sam Cox) and brilliant, Osmond style choreography (Bill Deamer).
Clearly there were many in the audience who remembered watching these shows the 1st time around and for them, it was a perfect night of reminiscing. If you're not a fan of the Osmonds, but still enjoy learning more about iconic groups and appreciate an origin story being told through a brilliant cast preforming live then hit this one up.