The Osmonds: A New Musical – Review – York Grand Opera House

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By Roger Crow, August 2022

Anyone growing up in the early 1970s will recall the era of Osmondmania. My earliest memories of their omnipresence either on radio or on TV made even a kid under five exhausted by their ubiquity. Obviously for Brits a few years older, they were everything.

The Osmonds, squeaky clean, apple pie, perfect teeth and wholesome too-good-to-be-true image looked like they had been crafted by a computer determined to create the most inoffensive band of all time; Utah saints before they were a band in their own right if you like.

And there are times in The Osmonds: A New Musical (story by Jay Osmond) that we wonder when the band of brothers are going to rebel against their military father who guided their success almost every step of the way, from their days as adorable guests stars on The Andy Williams Show.

The Osmonds A New Musical – Review – York Grand Opera House

“Forces of nature”

And yes, the kids* that play the young Osmonds generate so many “ahhhhs”, that you can instantly see why American audiences took the band to their hearts.

*Kudos to Herbie Byers – Donny; Jayden Harris – Alan; Austin Redwood – Wayne; Dexter Seaton – Merrill; Miles Redwood – Jay, and Austin Riley – Jimmy.

Back to the plot, and the family that plays together stays together. Lucrative contracts keep the band on air, and as the years go by their success grows. The kids become all-singing, all-dancing forces of nature, and when Little Jimmy Osmond sings ‘Long Haired Lover from Liverpool’, he also becomes a pint-sized star in Blighty.

Naturally Donny’s success as the heartthrob of the group sends the act in a different direction, especially when he teams up with sister Marie, whose solo smash ‘Paper Roses’ made her a star in her own right.

Throughout all of this, narrator Jay Osmond (not the real one) is linking scenes, talking us through the drama and being generally fabulous.

The Osmonds A New Musical – Review – York Grand Opera House georgia

“Genuine dramatic tension”

I wonder if the ecstatic response to just about every scene from the two women in front of us is because they are relatives of the actors. But it’s clear they were those teenage girls who must have played those LPs to death back in the day.

Like a tribute act, there’s that weird thing that happens with this show. We all know that’s not the real thing on stage, but the songs take most of us back, and the cleverly designed set makes us feel that we are either watching them on TV or in the audience at one of their gigs. It’s a rainbow of colours, with showbiz steps either side and a gantry that means every inch of that stage is used to excellent effect.

Cleverly there is a character called Mary from Manchester who pens letters to Jay, and acts as our sounding board – a link between Brits and the band, which means we never feel too separated from the sense of international fandom.

It’s a LONG show. The first act is over an hour and strangely the second is even longer, which is a rarity, but that length does ensure there’s an immersion to the material, like a benign Stockholm Syndrome; when the family’s finances create a massive bump in the road towards the finale, there’s genuine dramatic tension in what could have been a lightweight offering. And as every stage show worth its salt needs a sucker punch scene, there’s happily a great moment which had many folks in tears.

The Osmonds A New Musical – Review – York Grand Opera House cast and jay

Jay Osmond with the cast in York

“Wave of goodwill”

There are so many moving parts in this production, it’s a tribute to cast and crew that they manage to sustain the interest throughout. Yes, a good 10 minutes could be trimmed from both acts, and it wouldn’t hurt to lose the odd song, but as long as it’s not ‘Crazy Horses’, one of THE greatest rock songs of all time, I’ll be happy. They definitely make you wait for that classic, but when it comes, it’s well worth it.

On a very warm night, I have all the more respect for those key cast members who sang, danced and worked their derrières off to bring us a terrific show. There are times when it enters an area cheesier than Cheddar Gorge, but intentionally so.

Even for Mrs C, who has no memory of Osmondmania, she had a great time, carried along by that wave of goodwill and some cracking songs, including ‘One Bad Apple’, ‘Love Me For A Reason’, ‘Let Me In’, and ‘Puppy Love’,

It’s a terrific night out, and I may even have to go again when it plays Hull New Theatre from October 18.

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1 comment

  1. Karen Ellis 4 August, 2022 at 18:51 Reply

    I.m off to Wimbledon next to see it for the 5th time. It takes me back to when i was 15. Roll on august 23rd. Then on september 9tg i.m off to Vegas fo the REAL thing and DONNY.

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