Who else could give better insight into the lives of The Osmonds than an Osmond brother himself? Jay Osmond has recently created The Osmonds: A New Musical. As the title suggests, it is a brand-new production based on the legendary 70s group. Ahead of the musical’s opening night in Manchester, I was invited to a press day, where I not only had the chance to speak to some of the cast members, but Jay Osmond himself!
Writing a musical about your entire life would be difficult for anyone, but especially for someone with a career as full as Jay’s. He created the musical over a course of 5 years and admitted, “It was a very difficult process looking through my journals and things that affected me; there was a whole list to go through”.
Luckily, Jay had the assistance of his wife, Karen, who “wrote down every word I said, and in the end, we had at least 20 scripts and three different stories”.
Jay described the narrowing down of these stories as a “crunching” and “morphing” process. He also credits the creative team, who helped bring his vision to life. “They were given pieces of a puzzle and squeezed them together”. He describes the end result as “even better than I expected; it’s truly magical”.
Seeing your life played out before you night after night is bound to bring up some intense feelings. Jay notes, “I still get emotional, and I’ve seen it more than 70 times”. He refers to the 70s, and the height of his career, as “the whirlwind era, in which my family had to overcome many hardships”.
Jay held nothing back and transferred his story to stage to create “a journey, not just a tribute show”.
The Osmonds have sold over 77 million records worldwide and are still one of the most successful music groups of all time. Jay attributes much of this success to the support of his fans – whom he calls “friends” and “family” – who he has a very close relationship with.
During the pandemic, Jay started Facebook live streams to connect with fans. Initially calling these vlogs ‘flogs’, his wife Karen explained they’d use the platform weekly to share their lockdown experience. It’s clear he wants the musical to mean as much to his fans as it does to him. He hopes that audiences feel “energetic and lifted” after watching the show. He passionately spoke about his creation without giving too much away, though he emphasised the main themes were “Faith, Family and Career” – the family’s motto and values (in that order).
Jay holds his cast and team in high regards. He endearingly calls the casted brothers “my nightmares” and remarked, “They remind me so much of my real brothers, it’s crazy”. The same energy is reciprocated by the cast. 11-year-old Jack Sheerhan, who plays the young Merrill Osmond, felt “very honoured to have met Jay Osmond”.
The five actors who play the grown-up brothers also felt very honoured to be working with Jay. Jamie Chatterton (Alan Osmond), Alex Lodge (Jay Osmond), Danny Nattrass (Wayne Osmond), Joseph Peacock (Donny Osmond) and Ryan Anderson (Merrill Osmond) all gushed over their roles in the brand-new production. Jamie explained, “It’s pretty special. We have people like Jay on set to learn from, and being part of it ourselves, there’s a lot of creative freedom”.
Alex noted the pressure of performing as one of the most famous groups of all time in front of the man who lived it: “It’s a lot of responsibility, especially to the fans who watch it and might not remember things a certain way”. Jamie noted, “It’s crazy because it’s basically Jay’s living memoir; it’s like therapy for him”.
But they seemed to each know their characters’ well and carefully summed up their Osmond brother in one word. Donny as Loveable, Alan as passionate, Wayne Cheeky, Merrill intricate, and Jay as both bright and sensitive (two words, I know).
The chemistry of the group was as close to brothers as you could find, bouncing back from one another and making (admittedly) terrible jokes. They at one point realised, “Oh, my god, we’re turning into the Osmonds”.
They seemed to love everything about The Osmonds, minus the 70s costumes, all agreeing that they’ll never get used to the white jumpsuits!
Jokes aside, they saw the importance behind The Osmonds’ story. Alex noted, “It’s a wonderful story from rags to riches to rags to riches again”. They all agreed, “It makes stars accessible, by stripping it all away and showing them as real people”. Ryan described the musical as “not just the vibe of nostalgia, but it does bring you back to a certain age”. Whilst fans of The Osmonds will certainly appreciate the show, they urged everyone to come see it. They summed up the musical as “crazy highs, crazy lows, and Crazy Horses”. If hat doesn’t convince you to get tickets, I don’t think anything will!
The Osmonds plays at Palace Theatre Manchester until 13th August, touring the UK until December – with further 2022 and 2023 dates to be announced soon.
Written by Jessica Hamilton.
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