Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, Tina: The Tina Turner Musical, Get Up, Stand Up: The Bob Marley Musical, The Cher Show, and Jersey Boys. It’s safe to say that musicals telling the stories of real-life music stars aren’t exactly in short supply, and you’d be forgiven for wondering if perhaps there wasn’t space for another but with so many music stars out there with a story to tell about what really happened behind the glamour of their careers, it’s not really surprising that more of these true story jukebox musicals keep appearing and one of the newest is The Osmonds: A New Musical.
The Osmonds, a family of performers, have enjoyed many decades of fame, from child stars on a variety show to running their own studios and making their own careers. And with hits such as ‘One Bad Apple’, ‘Love Me For A Reason’, ‘Down By The Lazy River’ and ‘We’re Having A Party’ to name but a few, their story was crying out to be told in an all singing, all dancing musical.
With a story by Jay Osmond, the show is described as a ‘living autobiography’ with the majority of the show guided along by Jay (played by Alex Lodge). We see the family’s rise from child star to music royalty, from variety television show to sell out world tours, all the way through to the decision that cost the family everything, all seamlessly linked with musical performances and flashbacks to the brothers’ childhoods being raised in military fashion by their ex-army father George (Charlie Allen) and their mother Olive (Nicola Bryan).
The Osmonds became famous as young children, as a classic barbershop quartet singing on a family entertainment show, and when little brother Donny joined the band, their fame only grew. What followed was years of tv appearances, sell out performances, the mix and match Osmonds as the group was divided into multiple acts with sister Marie and littlest brother Jimmy joining in.
Ryan Anderson, Jamie Chatterton, Alex Lodge, Danny Nattrass and Joseph Peacock play Merrill, Alan, Jay, Wayne, and Donny Osmond respectively, each impressing greatly as they make it look effortless to sing whilst performing some very precise and intricate dance moves. Each is given their moment to shine independently, with the true to life idea that the spotlight was quickly thrown onto Donny. The one that everyone loved, the one that all the girls wanted and the one who would lead a successful tv show with his sister Marie (Georgia Lennon). Peacock plays the part well, showcasing the responsibility that Donny felt to continue to perform for the sake of the family, no matter what it took. Ryan Anderson’s Merrill perhaps takes on the emotional heart of the show, the one who never really wanted the fame and just wanted love and home and Jamie Chatterton’s Alan is shown as the one who had to take on the leader role, keeping his brothers in line. Danny Nattrass’ Wayne realises that fame isn’t always worth it when their careers change path and Alex Lodge’s Jay is described as always in the middle, going from being the baby of the family to the one at the back. But does that matter, is it okay as long as it’s an Osmond at the front?
The story jumps back and forth between the Osmonds in adulthood and childhood, with flashbacks to them as young children helping to explain why they behave the way that they do. Charlie Allen plays father George, an ex-military man raises the children like soldiers, early mornings, strict routines, and the idea that it goes Faith, family and then career. But George is not an easy character to like, and it is much easier to see how he shaped the boys’ lives in more ways than one.
Talented youngsters play the roles of young Alan, Merrill, Wayne, Jay, Donny, and Jimmy, as cute as anything and stars in the making. I wish that I could tell you with confidence which young stars I saw performing, but as there was no cast board up, I couldn’t tell you exactly and I would hate to get anyone’s names wrong. But nevertheless, these youngsters had the audience in the palm in their hands, adding a true emotional heart to the production.
The Osmonds: A New musical is incredibly slick throughout, with a relatively simple set comprising of two moveable staircases and a high walkway. Sofas, chairs, instruments, and cameras are enough to set the different scenes allowing for more space for the large dance numbers and Osmond performances and the talented ensemble performing a variety of roles adding to the action.
Throughout their career as a group, the Osmonds were painted as squeaky clean, perfect family entertainment, the family who had it all and who had it all planned out perfectly, but this musical picks away at that perfect image with a brutal honesty that can only come from it being told by someone who lived it. Jay Osmond tells it like it happened in his writing, the arguments, the difficulties, the decisions both good and bad, and all of that is portrayed throughout this show, showcasing that things weren’t always as perfect as the performances made them looked.
If you are a fan of the music of the Osmonds, or simply a fan of a good story, then this musical will be a hit in your eyes.