The Osmonds at The Churchill Theatre
Let me start this review by declaring that I am not The Osmonds Musical target audience. Prior to seeing the show I would have struggled to name any of the Osmond brothers other than Donny and could only name 3 of their songs. However I did take my mum along who was a huge Osmond fan and most definitely their target audience.
The show tells the story of the Osmonds from their childhood right up to their reunion show in 2008. It is told from the point of view of Jay Osmond who was the one (as he puts it) always in middle observing it all. The backstory of the Osmonds is actually an interesting one, from childhood stardom to a military father who trained his children in musicianship and from selling out world tours in the height of Osmondmania to being on the brink of bankruptcy. It makes sense that their story has been turned into a musical. Combine that with the purchasing power of their old fans, those that were in their teens during the 70’s and it is a recipe for success. There were moments in the show I would have liked to have been explored further, for example the role of their parents, George and Olive Osmond, as I found both of these characters interesting.
Of course a huge part of The Osmonds musical is the music. The songs were told chronologically, although they kept their most famous hit for the finalie. You could audibly hear murmurs of excitement and recognition in the audience when some of the biggest songs started and the staging of the numbers were varied enough to keep the audience interested, some displayed at their concerts, or Top of the Pops, the others in recording studios. One issue however in using the music in this way was that the music never really resonated emotionally or drove the story forward.
Playing the Osmonds brothers to an audience full of Osmonds fans is no small undertaking. We meet them at a young age, played by Jack Jones, Alfie Jones, Alfie Murray, Tom Walsh and Alex Lodge although a young Donny, played by Osian Salter soon joins them. These young boys were impressive at singing in tight harmony. Our narrator throughout as Jay Osmond and he got the audience on side with his self depreciating humour and charismatic smile. He ably guides the show from one point in their life to the next, with the occasional flashback to their childhood. The other brothers all played their part well, Ryan Anderson as the troubled Merill probably gave the most emotional performance of the night due to Merill’s struggles whilst in the group however I would have loved to have seen these struggles developed further. I also must commend Anderson for his vocal ability, some of his harmony lines were not easy and he pulled them off with confidence.
Joseph Peacock had one of the hardest roles, that was living up to the fans expectations as Donny Osmond. He always had a cheeky smile and looked at ease fronting the group frequently. One of the stand outs for me was Georgina Lennon as Marie Osmond. Her country vocals were sublime and I was drawn to her whenever she was on stage.
The choreography by Bill Deamer was slick and I found myself wondering if the Osmonds themselves were as strong dancers as the cast on stage (my mum assures me that they were). The choreography was fitting for the time but translated well to the stage. Additionally the set itself was bright and colourful and the simple use of the platform and moving stairs help kept the action flowing.
For Osmond fans this is a must see, for all others it is an enjoyable night even if you find yourself bemused at times as to the crowds reaction. The crowd were on their feet before the bows even started and Osmondmania was clearly present in Bromley last night.
The Osmonds is playing at The Churchill Theatre until 30th April. You can find out more about the show and tour dates on their website.