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12th August 2022

Review: The Osmonds

Theatre Editor Jay Darcy reviews The Osmonds at the Palace Theatre – which featured a special appearance from Jay Osmond, who wrote the story
Review: The Osmonds
Joseph Peacock, Jamie Chatterton, Alex Lodge, Ryan Anderson and Danny Natrass. Photo: Pamela Raith.

I will not lie; I had not been all that excited for The Osmonds. Biographical and jukebox musicals musicals are hit-and-miss – and this is both a biographical and a jukebox musical, so there was double the chance of it being miss!

I also did not know much about The Osmonds. I’m a pop culture aficionado, and I love old artists (as is obvious by the artists I choose to review), but my pop culture knowledge did not extend to The Osmonds. Only recently did I find out that Donny Osmond played Joseph (in both the West End and the film), and Marie Osmond famously covered ‘Paper Roses’ (which was originally recorded by anti-gay activist Anita Bryant).

(I then found out that Donny spoke out against same-sex marriage, which would have been disappointing had I actually known who he was. But now that I’ve seen this musical – and fallen in love with its real-life characters – the disappointment has hit!)

I hadn’t actually realised just how successful the Osmond family is. But that’s one of the reasons why I enjoyed this musical – I learned so much! It was like watching a Wikipedia article play out in real life, but with narration and music (I love a good Wiki, not gonna lie).

Before the musical began, Jay Osmond (who is behind the musical’s story) made a special appearance, along with his wife, in one of the boxes. The audience erupted into applause, with whoops and cheers – with many audience members standing to show appreciation to the living legend. My writer, Jess Hamilton, had interviewed Jay (and the main cast of the musical) the day before, at a special press event.

The musical began with four actors playing the Osmond brothers appearing at the back of the stage before performing a hit song. It was a dramatic opening that got the audience excited. It was a prologue of sorts, showing us The Osmonds before pulling back the curtain and telling us their story. After the performance, Jay Osmond (Alex Lodge) broke the fourth wall by speaking directly to the audience. He narrated the musical and guided us along the way.

The musical then took us right back to the beginning, with five adorable child actors portraying the young Osmonds. The kids made numerous appearances, even after their characters had grown up, in the form of flashbacks. They stole the hearts of the audience. I was especially touched by the several scenes that featured both a young and a grown-up Osmond – the older Osmond remembering and reflecting. These scenes were especially poignant.

The set, though nothing special, is elaborate enough for this production. The production’s best design is seen in the costumes, many of them replicas of iconic costumes worn by The Osmonds – including the white jumpsuits! Their first appearance is not actually on The Osmonds – I think they might have been on a clothing rail – and it’s followed by a scene in which The Osmonds perform in less swanky costumes. I guessed that the jumpsuits were being saved for the curtain call, in which the cast would sing a medley of The Osmonds’ hits (it’s a jukebox musical, y’all – there was obviously going to be a medley in the curtain call).

I also presumed Jay Osmond would make a special appearance in the curtain call – perhaps give a little speech. Sure enough, I saw him exit his box, but he did not give a speech. Instead, after one of the cast-members introduced him, he performed ‘Crazy Horses’ with Alex Lodge (the musical’s Jay Osmond) – the only hit to feature Osmond on lead (and, according to the musical, the band’s biggest hit). Jay then left the stage and allowed the cast chance to shine, before returning for the final bow. It was a fun, fabulous end to a feel-good musical.

I often don’t enjoy musicals like this, though I always acknowledge that they’re not made for people like me. However, at times, I felt I was enjoying the musical almost as much as the oldies around me!

It was especially sweet being amongst an older crowd, who grew up with The Osmonds and were thrilled to see not only the band’s story being told but an actual Osmond! Throughout the show, people kept getting up to dance (only to be told to sit back down) and even gave individual songs standing ovations.

My friend, Sally, told me it would be like us going to watch a musical about One Direction in decades to come – except The Osmonds were universally popular; not just with teenage girls!

The audiences’ favourite moment of the musical had to be when Donny Osmond (Joseph Peacock) sang his signature song, a cover of Paula Anka’s ‘Puppy Love’. The audience went wild! Sadly, he did not sing ‘Any Dream Will Do’ from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat.

The musical does a fantastic job of telling the story of The Osmonds, from their formation up until their reunion in the 2000s – addressing success, scandal, and everything in between.

The songs are obviously spectacular (though the singing is sometimes merely satisfactory), the costumes are stunning, and the standing ovations render this warm, messy musical a resounding success!

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.

Jay Darcy

Jay Darcy

Theatre Editor. Instagram & Twitter: @jaydarcy7. Email: [email protected].

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