Review: The Osmonds. A New Musical. Royal and Derngate (touring)

As someone who did not grow up in the 70’s, and knows embarrassingly little about the Osmond Family, I was apprehensive about reviewing a biopic of their lives in show business. However, this musical, written by the middle son, Jay Osmond, allowed me to learn and dive into the happiness and heartbreak this family faced.

The opening number ‘One Way Ticket to Anywhere’, sees tightly knit choreography from the band of brothers, alongside some incredible harmonisation. Mix that with glitter, sparkles and flared trousers ( costumes by Lucy Osbourne) and you instantly transport yourself to the 1970’s.

I do believe the first couple of songs fall a bit short in energy, almost lacklustre. Although this is very quickly ironed out after the first 10 minutes or so.

What is made clear from the start, is how close this family is. The story begins with their two oldest brothers needing hearing aids, so their youngest siblings, Alan, Wayne, Merrill and Jay, sing to earn some money for them. The cast who play the Osmond children are amazing. As soon as they enter the stage, they light up the room. All with exceptional voices, that pairs with perfect American accents.

When young Donny Osmond, played by Nicholas Teixeira, is introduced on the Andy Williams show, at only five years old. He instantly receives a huge ‘Awwwh’ from the entire audience, even more so after he sung ‘You Are My Sunshine’.

The vocals of adult Donny, played by understudy Tristan Whincup, are outstanding. These are really shown off in ‘Yo-Yo’. This goes for all the adult Osmond brothers cast, as well as sister, Marie (Georgia Lennon). Donny’s vocals really astound first, however each of them showcases their talent.  Also, their ability to dance the upbeat and technical choreography by Bill Dreamer, and sing as well as they all do, is truly admirable.

The Director, Shaun Kerrison, has ensured the entire plot runs smoothly. As stated previously, I had no prior knowledge of this musical family, but the storyline was easy to follow and incredibly encapsulating. Jay (Alex Lodge), is almost always on stage, narrating the story with comedic interjections. How he manages to do the number of quick changes he does, is mindboggling.

Although funny at times, there is also a portrayal of the real lows this family faced. It tells of Merrill’s deep struggles in the band, how they lost $80 million and their military style up-bringing. The mantra: ‘It doesn’t matter who is out front, as long as it’s an Osmond’, is drilled into them from children by their father, yet is seen to be what almost breaks them in the end.

Overall, the storytelling this musical provides is top tier. The entire cast, although small, encapsulate the Osmond family story in a fun, cheesy way, yet perfectly portray the pain that is felt. I think, for a lot of the audience, this feels like a step back in time to when they were part of ‘Osmondmania’. It is clear to me why they had the success they did, I don’t think I’ve stopped singing ‘Crazy Horses’ since.

Reviewer: Bea Maynard

The Osmonds. A New Musical by Jay Osmond runs at Royal and Derngate until Saturday 7th May.


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