Review: “The Osmonds!” Musical Is Really Quite Entertaining

in Wyoming Life/News

Editor’s note: Earlier this year, Cowboy State Daily reporter Wendy Corr reported on Wyoming resident Jay Osmond’s musical “The Osmonds!” premiering in England. Since Wendy was in England last week, she went to a performance. Her review is below:

By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily

The lights. The costumes. The music. “The Osmonds!”

In a production that is touring the United Kingdom this year, theatre-goers are given a behind-the-scenes look at what life was like for the family band as their careers soared in the 1960s and fell back to earth in the late 1970s.

Arriving at the Hull New Theatre in Kingston-upon-Hull on a Saturday evening Oct. 22, there was an excited rush of people queuing up in the brightly-lit lobby. As drinks were purchased at the bar, audience members of all ages found their way into the comfortable seats, and a colorful ’70s-era logo of the family band featured prominently on the scrim onstage.

As the show began, the audience was immediately thrust into the pop-music world of “The Osmonds!” a Mormon family from Utah whose record sales during their heyday outpaced even Elvis and The Beatles.

The production takes the audience on a journey with the Osmonds of the 1960s and ’70s, complete with big collars, bell-bottoms and a color scheme indicative of the family’s television variety show. 

Songs from the family’s career are interspersed throughout the musical, from “One Bad Apple” to “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother.” 


Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily

The Wyoming Connection

Jay Osmond, one of the original four members of the band that first stole the hearts of viewers of “The Andy Williams Show” in the mid-1960s, is the brother whose perspective is depicted in the musical production that debuted this year. 

Jay and his wife, Karen, make their home in Star Valley, Wyoming, near where the Osmond family first settled after emigrating to the United States from England in the late 1800s.

Jay and Karen said they were ecstatic at the reception the musical has received in the United Kingdom.

“There are some people that have seen it 30, 40, 50 times,” Jay told Cowboy State Daily, just a few days after the performance at Kingston-Upon-Hull.

Through Jay’s Eyes

In 2016, Jay was writing a book about his family’s decades in the public eye when a friend in the music industry – country star Billy Dean – connected him with producers who encouraged Jay to make a “living memoir” and set his story on a stage.

“You know, each Osmond would probably have a different slant on things, but I wanted to tell how I saw it from my eyes,” he said.

The contract he signed ensured Jay that he would have control over the content of the story and the casting, which was critical for Jay. Not only would the performers have to capture the right sounds, but the mannerisms and personalities needed to mesh with the rest of the team.

“More than just the way they looked, I would be watching how they talk, and how they physically moved,” Jay said. “And trying to match up person to person, I’d be matching personalities.”

And the cast delivered. Spot-on vocals, tight harmonies and delightful performances – particularly by the youngsters who played the Osmond brothers as children – elicited loud cheers from the audience.



The Story

Once the curtain goes up, the audience is led through the lives and careers of Alan, Wayne, Merrill, Jay and Donny Osmond, as well as younger siblings Marie and Jimmy, who took the world by storm beginning in the late 1950s when the family patriarch, George Osmond, determined that his sons had the talent and personalities to support the family as performers.

The audience experiences these events through the eyes of Jay Osmond, the sixth of nine children born to George and Olive Osmond. As told in the musical, father George ruled the wholesome Mormon family with a firm hand, insisting that every business decision be made with the entire family’s well-being in mind.

In between musical numbers (“Puppy Love,” “Paper Roses,” “Utah” and “Having A Party,” just to name a few), the show takes the audience through the family’s meteoric rise to international fame and lays bare the toll that the stress and pressure of that fame took on the family.

The story is told through flashbacks, narrated by Alex Lodge, who portrays Jay as an adult in the show. Lodge’s performance was energetic, enthusiastic and genuine. In his portrayal of Jay Osmond, the audience feels sympathy for the character, who is oftentimes caught in the middle of his father’s drive for success and his brothers’ longing for personal lives away from the spotlight.

Jay said when making casting decisions, he hung the rest of the cast around Lodge.

“When we first did the workshop, three years before it opened, he was the only one that I held onto,” he said. “From Day One, when I first met him, I went, ‘OK. I can tell, there’s something about him that reminds me of me.’ He was so good, he’s the best actor.’”

Growing In Popularity

Jay and Karen said the musical is gaining a solid fan base in the UK since its debut in February. 

“Starting in July, it kind of turned a corner where it’s gotten a really great name in the theater community,” said Karen. “And so we’re getting a lot of 20-somethings and 30-somethings that are theatre people.”

And some are such big fans of the production they come again and again.

“We’re loving reading the comments about how people feel addicted to this because they come out of there feeling so good,” Jay said.

In fact, Jay said there are people who have seen “The Osmonds” dozens of times.

“At the intermissions, people are booking another show,” he said. 

Karen said the popularity of the musical also is driving new fans to the Osmonds’ music from the 1960s and ’70s.

“In the UK, all the 20-something-year-olds are into discovering bands that used to be popular in the ’70s, and so now you can’t even find a vinyl over there from the Osmonds,” she said. “They’ve gone way up in price.”

’70s Dance Party

The bustling crowd at the New Hull Theatre in Kingston-upon-Hull in the United Kingdom on Oct. 22 clapped, cried and sang along to tunes that made the family band famous in the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s. Silver-haired women – as well as younger audience members – stood up to dance to “Crazy Horses” and “Down By the Lazy River” as the cast members on stage in period jumpsuits enthusiastically encouraged the crowd in a raucous finale.

“(This musical) really lifts (the audience’s) spirits, and it makes them so happy,” said Karen. “And they cry sometimes, but it’s like happy tears, they’re so full of emotions.”

And this reporter would agree, having left the theatre with a smile on my face, and an overwhelming urge to play “Down By the Lazy River” on repeat.

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