On Wednesday the 10th of August 2022 I attended the matinee performance of The Osmonds: A new musical at the Palace Theatre Manchester not knowing what to expect and with my mind very much open.
It is fair to say it did not disappoint! The Osmonds, as you can probably guess from the title, tells the story of the rise and fall of the Osmond family, how their fame and success came to be, and how it affected the family behind the scenes. The show was narrated by Jay Osmond and tells the story from his perspective. The first act explores the Osmonds early life, how the band originated, and how they secured their weekly Andy Williams gig, their ticket into the music industry. We get an inside look into what their childhood was like and how the fame affected their personal lives, especially Merrill Osmond’s.
The second act sees the fall of the Osmonds, how they went from being millionaires to almost bankrupt, and how they managed to come back from their downfall.
The creative team
Firstly, I would like to comment on the staging and set, designed by Lucy Osborne. The set was made to look like an old TV from the 70s, making it feel like you were watching the show as it unfolded before its viewers back in the day. The set didn’t change throughout the show, there were lots of bright colours and various levels which served their purpose very well. The set was overall very simple yet effective and very eye-catching. Lucy also worked on the costumes, they perfectly fit the era and tied in wonderfully with the set. Again, they were colourful and fun and couldn’t really be faulted.
Rating: 4 stars
Bill Deamer, who has worked on the world-famous musical CATS, choreographed The Osmonds, and what fun choreography it was. It was energetic, exciting, and almost made you want to join in. It isn’t a dance-heavy show, like CATS, however, the choreography plays a vital role, especially when recreating TV performances.
Rating: 5 stars
The show was directed and co-written by Shaun Kerrison alongside Jay Osmond. I found that the show jumped around a little between past and present, for most people this wouldn’t be a problem however as someone who didn’t know much about the Osmonds beforehand at some points I found it a little bit difficult to follow.
The direction was very well done, I liked the fact that they kept Jay Osmond on stage most of the time as he narrated and watched scenes he was reflecting on from his childhood and early adult life. I also noticed that every time a flashback occurred the Osmond brother would react to their younger self coming on stage. I found this a subtitle, yet effective approach and it made the story a little easier to link together.
Rating: 4 stars
The music was performed by an offstage band Musically directed by Will Joy, the Music was tight and the band carried the show for me. There were moments on stage where the actors were “playing instruments”, I am someone who loves live music and enjoys shows like ‘Waitress’ and ‘School of Rock’ where you get to see the instruments played on stage. I do wish the actors were playing the instruments, the Osmonds are known not only for their vocals but their ability to play many instruments. I do understand the complexity of having live musicians on stage I just feel it would’ve added that little extra to the show.
Rating: 4 stars
I am always impressed and deeply admire children who are cast into musicals, to be touring the country and performing on stage at such a young age is something we can only dream of, they were scene stealers from the moment they marched onto the stage. However, the little one who not only stole the show but the hearts of every audience member was the adorable Herbie Byers who starred as young Donny Osmond. His performance of the ‘jazzed up’ you are my sunshine was endearing and flawless, this little boy has a very bright (and sunny) future ahead of him.
The Osmond family, I felt, was cast very well. Their onstage chemistry reflected that of a close and loving family, just like the Osmonds back in the 70s, however, there were a few performers who stole the show for me.
Georgia Lennon played the endearing country singer Marie Osmond. Lennon’s voice was so well suited for this role and her rendition of Paper Roses in Act one gave me full body chills. She had incredible vocal control and captured my attention every time she opened her mouth to sing.
Alex Lodge took on the role of Jay Osmond, not only one of the brothers but also the narrator of the whole production. As I said earlier, he was on stage for 90% of the performance and only really left to change costume. For an actor this can be quite demanding however Lodge didn’t break character once, he was charismatic, vocally strong, and interacted with the audience extremely well.
However, the star for me was Ryan Anderson who plays the lovable Merrill Osmond. Merrill by far has the most heart-breaking storyline as we go through act one and Anderson portrayed this beautifully. You really felt the emotion in the audience not only through Anderson’s acting but also his vocals. He showed real vocal diversity throughout the show singing ballads, 70s pop, and rock and roll. Anderson was captivating and is most definitely a force to be reckoned with in the world of musical theatre.
All this is not to say the other three Osmond brothers did not perform spectacularly, each had their stand-out moments. Jamie Chatterton (Alan Osmond) showed the true trials and tribulations of what it means to be the oldest sibling, Danny Nattrass (Wayne Osmond) shows impeccable passion and emotion in a rather heated family conflict in act two, and finally, Joseph Peacock’s (Donny Osmond) version of Puppy love made the crowd go crazy!
Rating: 5 stars
Overall, I would describe this show as feel-good, fun, and nostalgic (for some). The atmosphere in the theatre was electric, the audience was singing along, and there were multiple standing ovations before the curtain call. Although at times I did feel it was a little all over the place it didn’t take away from the enjoyment of the show. I look forward to seeing where this show goes in the future and congratulations to everyone involved.
Overall rating: 4 stars
Want more reviews? Click here to see all reviews