REVIEW: The Osmonds at the New Wimbledon Theatre

Having been born in the late eighties and with scarce knowledge of the sights and sounds of the 1970s music scene, I was enormously intrigued by the illustrious family of singers whose journey has effectively been brought to life on stage in a full-on, exuberant, and brightly colored musical tribute to their lives!

I was slightly apprehensive about what to expect from the touring production of The Osmonds, A new musical about one of the most successful family singing groups in America, and not forgetting their colossal worldwide celebrity and recognition over the decades. However pre-musical jitters are somewhat healthy as fear of the unknown usually turns into pure delight, especially when a great accompanies equally celebrated story musical numbers. These so call ‘numbers’ are a nostalgic flashback to an era that produced some of the greatest groups and performers we know today, and we can thank The Osmonds for contributing to some of the most recognizable songs of all time.

I suspect we have all at some point (For those born post and pre-70s) heard of the Osmonds or have been privy to online videos and interviews of their huge public appeal over the years. Donny and Marie Osmond are probably the most recognizable of the singing siblings but there are more to add to the mix, and it was undeniably their strength in numbers that cemented their legacy into the history books of music royalty. It’s a name that is truly celebrated with utmost joy not only because of the evocative evolution of their bright and somewhat tainted journey but their squeaky-clean image winning over the hearts of millions (Both young and old!)

With one hundred million records sold this close-knit family endured the pain and endurance of celebrity stardom together with growing up in a time where tweets and Instagram posts were replaced with actual fan mail – written by their huge fan base. (One such story is depicted so poignantly throughout the show by 1 adoring and highly spirited supporter).

When one thinks of musically inspired family groups, we immediately focus our attention on major forces in the industry and a few pre-80s names come to the forefront. For famous childhood singers like The Osmonds who practically grew up on television, we followed their vivacious journey. However, we come to understand theirs was fraught with the ups and downs of celebrity stardom and later bankruptcy which is one of the pivotal and redefining moments in the show.

This fabulously colorful musical has an almost autobiographical story by Jay Osmond showingcasing the celebrated family of brothers and 1 sister and what their music meant for so many people. Their songs weren’t only sentimental but really encapsulated the very essence of family and the importance of sticking together even though the toughest of times.

The whole production is simple yet effective. The functional stage has been created with a look and feel of a studio set giving off jukebox vibes where we are privy to The Osmonds lives. The story takes you on a backstage journey from the younger Osmonds where we witness their early spotlight stints on the Andy Williams show to their teenage and adult years and all the moments both high and low that made them famous. The child actors playing the young Osmonds were a treat to watch giving the show all those nostalgic aha moments.

Throughout the show, we see Osmond brother Jay played brilliantly by Alex Lodge narrating the musical with flashback moments and touches on their upbringing with their ‘military type’ father’s parenting and how determined he was for the family to succeed even at huge detriment to their own personal wellbeing. The actors playing the older Osmond brothers were convincing and believable in their roles and showed huge vulnerability together with a never give up mentality which was why this band of brothers conquered their music career courageously. Credit needs to be given to Ryan Anderson, Jamie Chatterton, Danny Nattress and Joseph Peacock who play Merrill, Alan, Wayne and Donny respectively. Georgia Lennon plays Marie Osmond with aplomb and has a beautiful vocal talent to match.

With a sleek and sharp direction by Shaun Kerrison and not forgetting the perfect amount of 1970s choreography by Bill Deamer, this fun and rather sentimental musical will leave you in good spirits revelling in all the hit songs that will unquestionably leave you on your feet with that fuzzy yearning for those by-gone days!

Review by David Simmons

Rating: ★★★★

Seat: Stalls, K10 | Price of Ticket: £58.50

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