It all began with four brothers — Alan, Wayne, Merrill, and Jay — who are all devout members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and originally from Ogden, Utah. They are the progeny of the late George Virl Osmond, Sr. and the late Olive May Davis Osmond.
After being taught the tight harmonies of a barbershop quartet by their father who loved to sing, the brothers began singing in and around their native hometown. In time, their father took them to California to audition for Lawrence Welk, but unfortunately, Mr. Welk was too busy to meet with them. So, their father took them to Disneyland where they were hired to perform at the park.
When Jay Emerson Williams, the father of “Moon River” crooner Andy Williams, noticed the Osmond Brothers doing an adorable barbershop quartet routine at Disneyland, he called Andy and told him to book the brothers on his variety show. The Osmond Brothers appeared regularly on The Andy Williams Show from 1962 to 1969. Donald Clark Osmond (Donny) became a part of the group in 1963. Later, their sister Marie and their younger brother Jimmy would join the family act and their name would officially be changed to The Osmonds.
Walt Disney also took a keen interest in The Osmond Brothers’ performances and featured them in a 1970 Disney television special. Before long, The Osmonds became the biggest thing since The Beatles. In fact, when they landed at Heathrow Airport in London, England, in 1973, so many screaming “teenyboppers” turned out to greet them that it caused a building to collapse. The rest of the story, as they say, is history — and what an incredible history it is!
Even after more than half a century of entertaining audiences across the globe, the voices of their loyal fans can still be heard chanting, “We want the Osmonds!” And those fans still know all the lyrics to the songs made popular by the group, including the songs that would be considered flops. Whether a song was a hit, or a flop, does not matter to fans because after all “One bad apple don’t spoil the whole bunch.”
To help keep the amazing legacy of The Osmonds alive, Jay Osmond (the drummer) has written a stage production called The Osmonds: A New Musical, which launched its tour of the United Kingdom and Ireland on Thursday, 3 February 2022, at the Leicester Curve Theatre in Leicester, England. The story is told from the perspective of Jay Osmond who pulls back the curtain to reveal the family behind the hits: parents George and Olive Osmond and their nine children, Virl, Tom, Alan, Wayne, Merrill, Jay, Donny, Marie, and Jimmy. The theatrical expertise is supplied by Julian Bigg and Shaun Kerrison.
The production is much more than a standard jukebox musical — it is a stirring memoir — the story of how five boys from Ogden, Utah, — Alan (played by Jamie Chatterton), Wayne (played by Danny Nattrass), Merrill (played by Ryan Anderson), Jay (played by Alex Lodge), and Donny (played by Joseph Peacock) — became pop sensations in the world of music. From the rave reviews thus far, the production is a huge success, leading many people to ask the question, “Why did it take so long to tell this incredible story?”
Those who watch this incredible story unfold, soon come to realize that although The Osmonds may have sung “We’re Having a Party,” the road that ultimately led to their success, at times, was anything but a party. That road had its fill of potholes, obstacles, challenges, and hurdles that had to be overcome both individually and together as a family.
The Daily Mail reports, “ Jay is honest enough to disclose the tensions behind the toothy smiles. We see Merrill’s heartache, Wayne’s depression, their father George’s overbearing strictness, and the whole family’s near-bankruptcy. . .. And yet the show is still a blast. The costumes are superb, the jokes good enough. The cast may not look very Osmond-like, but they’re thoroughly endearing. . .. As the screams of old turn to fond chuckles, you can feel an Osmonds reunion approaching.”
*Lead Photo Credit: Pamela Raith