For many people, The Osmonds were the early 1970s band. With their toothy grins, wholesome image and catchy songs, they offered something for everybody, and seemed to have it all. The truth, as a brand new musical by Jay Osmond reveals, is that there were rivalries, unhappiness about the direction the band took once they became all-round musical entertainers, and ultimately money worries that almost led to bankruptcy in 1980. But there was also the music, performed by one of the most talented groups of musicians to ever grace the charts, and as the delighted audience of the Wolverhampton Grand shows, the music has stood the test of time, even if the flared trousers and wide collared shirts haven’t.
The Osmonds story is told by Jay Osmond, who also acts as narrator for the tale – the glue who holds everything together as mom Olive calls him. The story starts with the band gaining fame at an early age as a junior barbers show quartet, finding an audience through the Andy Williams show, with Donny soon joining the troop. The young cast (Jasper Penny, Harvey Loakes, Lonan Johnstone, Austin Redwood and Matthias Green, with Austin Riley as Little Jimmy), are an absolute dream, consummate performers already and certainly winning hearts tonight.
We then move to their teens and their days as the ultimate teen idols, a band where everyone can sing, dance and play all the instruments. But early fame sours as first Donny is pushed into the limelight as the ultimate teen dream, and then paired with sister Marie in their own variety show. Brothers Merrill, Jay, Wayne and Alan are left as little more than a back up band to their younger siblings. This fact, combined with loneliness, the endless touring, and the need to want a life of their own leads to a fracturing of relations amongst the family. But the Osmond family is nothing if not resilient, and they will bounce back due to faith and family.
As Jay Osmond, Alex Lodge is a brilliant, engaging presence, fully able to keep the show flowing through the story, and utterly likeable. He is joined by a brilliant team as the rest of the brothers, Ryan Anderson as a sensitive, lovely Merrill, Jamie Chatterton and Danny Nattras as Alan and Wayne, the older leaders of the group, and Joseph Peacock as a wonderfully wholesome Donny. Georgia Lennon sings beautifully as sister Marie, and has great chemistry with Peacock, whilst Charlie Allen and Nicola Bryan excel as the parents George and Olive, with Olive the warm heart balancing out George’s military style treatment of his sons. A special mention must be also given to Alex Cardell as the charismatic Andy Williams, performing a great version of ‘Music to watch girls by’.
And so onto the music..All the tracks sound fabulous, but stand outs include ‘Let Me In’, which sounds just glorious, and their first hit ‘One Bad Apple’ which introduces the group in all their flared, jump-suited glory. Georgia Lennon delivers a wonderful version of Paper Roses which is just a stunning moment. The wonderful set, which is brightly coloured and features a live band, is another high point, perfectly reflecting the early 70s styling, whilst the Christmas setting for ‘I’ll be home for Christmas’ is very poignant, a family that is disintegrating pretending to be the all America happy family. It is quite a moment.
The Osmonds is a polished slice of nostalgia that is not afraid to add a punch of realism. Wonderful entertainment for the whole family, a bit like the group themselves.
THE OSMONDS MUSICAL
16 Mar–19 Mar 2022
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