REVIEW: The Osmonds – A gloriously nostalgic trip down memory lane

Venue: Wolverhampton Grand Theatre

Performance Date: 15 March 2022

Reviewer: Gemma Fincher

Star Rating: ★★★★1/2

For modern day audiences The Osmonds might not be particularly familiar. However, if you were to imagine a hybrid of the Jackson 5 and the hysteria that a young One Direction yielded when they rose to prominence, then that might go some way to contextualising the popularity of the Osmonds. 

All members of the same family, the Osmonds hail from Ogden, Utah. A very god fearing, Mormon family led by their no nonsense, bordering on abusive, ex military father George (played by Charlie Allen). From childhood they were trained to perform and as the family grew so did the group and their enduring popularity. 

The Osmonds were wildly popular, selling one hundred million records and garnering world-wide notoriety. Everything they touched literally turned to gold. Multi-talented, the Osmonds, we’re adept musicians and singers and had an uncanny ability to read the market and adjust their act and sound accordingly. As long as their was an Osmond up front all was well. 

The musical is written by Jay Osmond, in his own words, the one always in the middle or the back. The United Nations of the family. Always diplomatic, measured and largely neutral. Alex Lodge plays him beautify, his role beautifully flits between narration and immersion in the narrative. He commands the stage and embodies Jay perfectly tying the story together. Lodge truly is The glue that holds the piece together. It’s fitting then, that according to his mother, played by Nicola Bryan, that he was also the glue that held the family together. 

The musical charts the family’s rise to fame from their initial spot on the Andy Williams show (played uncannily by Alex Cardell) to their sell out shows at Maddison Square Garden and beyond. 

The narrative of the musical cleverly flits between past and present, youth and adulthood. The children in the cast differ from venue to venue but the youngsters on the Wolverhampton Press Night stage deserve huge plaudits. Matthias Green as a young Donny Osmond particularly shines. This young man has a glorious career ahead of him. 

Talking of Donny, he is probably the most famous of the Osmonds exports. He is played remarkably well by Joseph Peacock who nails Donny’s signature style with aplomb. His rendition of Donny’s most famous number Puppy Love yields the most passionate reaction from an audience made up of, shall we say a more mature female demographic. 

In his story Jay has managed to strike the perfect balance between alluding to the obvious challenges in the family dynamics and not demonstrating any overt resentment towards his brothers that could potentially make him appear bitter. 

Ryan Anderson as Merrill is quite frankly astonishing. For those familiar with the music he is a perfect embodiment of the conflicted older Osmond. He is complemented beautifully by Jamie Chatterton as Alan who has the challenging task of emulating his strong-willed father as the groups career progresses. 

Georgia Lennon puts in a wonderful turn as single sister Marie. Her chemistry with Peacock as Donny is a lovely homage to the pair’s successes in their wildly successful collaborations including the much loved Donny and Marie Show. 

The musical leaves the most iconic numbers to last with the boys performing Love Me For A Reason, (famously covered by Boyzone in the 1990’s) and their edgy rock anthem Crazy Horses as they close the show. 

For people of a certain age, the Osmonds are synonymous with their youth and this musical is a gloriously nostalgic trip down memory lane. 

That said, if you aren’t familiar with the Osmonds don’t let that deter you from booking tickets. The story is quite astonishing and the music is truly ageless, iconic and unique. 

Get ready to take a trip Down By The Lazy River and don’t be the One Bad Apple who misses out on Having A Party with The Osmonds. 

Runs until: Saturday 19 March and on tour

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