Touring – reviewed at the New Wimbledon Theatre, London
The family Osmond runs to nine children, most precociously talented almost from birth, and for two decades they dominated record sales and made regular TV appearances.
This show, from a story by fifth son Jay (who was in attendance watching from one of the boxes, happy to wave and acknowledge the faithful fans), takes the story from the young quartet’s first taste of fame through to the 2007 concert reunion.
A devout Mormon group who lived by the principles of “faith, family and career”, the Osmonds were schooled by their ex-military father (Charlie Allen) to deal with the harshness of life and to be “better than best”.
It’s a familiar tale. The character of Jay (Alex Lodge) narrates, comments and explains as the show progresses. This is very much his take on his brothers and their story. Alan the leader (Jamie Chatterton), Wayne the innovator (Danny Nattrass), Merrill the romantic (Ryan Anderson), Donny the tween prodigy (Joseph Peacock).
I admit that growing up I was not aware there were other Osmonds than Donny and Marie (played here by Georgia Lennon), as they were the most visible with their TV variety show. I was born in the week Donny had a number 1 recording with ‘Puppy Love’ (yes, it is in this show) so missed out on Osmond mania at its height.
This show is an average, inoffensive and fairly forgettable jukebox musical. The performances are good throughout – we have talented children for the early scenes (and for well-drawn vignettes looking back) and a keen quartet to tackle the golden years.
If you’re a fan you’re here for the songs and the memories, and you’ll have a good time. All the hits are here – even Little Jimmy’s breakout ditty. They are delivered with the signature style and smile the brothers personified.
It’s a cheesy evening which works best when the brothers turn their smiles up to ten and go out to entertain. I liked how Marie was portrayed as the one who saved Donny’s awkward transition from moppet pin up to mature perforner; but a scene where the family discuss financial troubles feels out of place.
In a world heavily populated with jukebox shows this is more Jersey Boys or Sunny Afternoon than Tina or The Cher Show. A fine evening’s entertainment.
The Osmonds: A New Musical plays at the New Wimbledon Theatre until the 27 August, then continues its tour through 2022 – purchase tickets here.
Image credit; Pamela Raith
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