JAY OSMOND ON THE OSMONDS: A NEW MUSICAL
Jay Osmond on The Osmonds: A New Musical
The Osmonds: A new musical reveals how the famous siblings from Utah went on to become a huge sensation – and nearly lost it all. As it heads to New Wimbledon Theatre, we talk to its creator about this incredible story…
Five years in the making, the life story of the Osmond family, as penned by one of the youngest brothers Jay, has reached the stage. The tale follows the meteoric rise to global fame of the musical siblings – and all the highs and lows that came with that.
And Jay is emotional about the work and the memories it stirs. “It was like taking a puzzle piece by piece and putting it in order – it’s all in there – the good and the bad. It’s a rollercoaster. People have no idea what our family went through, all the crazy things, and what kept us strong together.”
Born into a religious family of what would become nine siblings, Jay’s career started early. Aged just three, he would sing barbershop music with his older brothers. Their father took them for an audition in California, which wasn’t to be, so they went instead to Disneyland, and were discovered by Walt Disney.
They became regulars on The Andy Williams Show and their younger siblings Marie and Donny joined the group. The Osmonds sold some one hundred million records with hits including Love Me For A Reason, Crazy Horses, Let Me In, Puppy Love, and One Bad Apple.
But one bad decision cost them everything. Jay is reluctant to reveal too much as it’s something of a spoiler for the show. However, as he talks about his life, he is clearly moved, particularly when reflecting on some of his mother’s words, such as using the phrase, ‘when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade.’
His family are devout members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Watching the casting of his parents in the musical was tricky – his mother he describes as an angel, keeping them positive, his father as strict and kind, steering them through the turmoil.
“We’re not this perfect family. People always saw us smiling and I want audiences to see what caused us to be motivated to be like that. By writing my story, I want to show how people can be strong and overcome obstacles. And I want the audience to come out of the theatre with a feeling of hope.”
And it is proving a hit with both those who loved The Osmonds back in the day as well as a new generation discovering their music. Jay describes the experience as incredible: “I love when people come out of the theatre saying they feel like they are 15 again. They laugh, dance, cry and feel a sense of joy, and it means a lot to me. I’m humbled by it.”
He has the support of the family for the musical but points out that this is The Osmonds’ life through his eyes. “I took almost everything from my journals and my thoughts and this is basically a look behind the curtain of how I saw things. And I want to show how I saw each of my family members, the record companies and the fans who were such a huge part of our life.”
“It’s not a jukebox musical. It’s not a tribute show and it’s not a documentary but it is a journey. And there’s a theme that runs through the musical – faith first, family second and third career. You’ll see that theme intertwining all through it as to the decisions and priorities.”
The Osmonds’ work spanned several different genres through their careers – which caused conflict in the press and tension within the family. “It confused some people because they wanted to pigeonhole us and they couldn’t.”
Looking back at his life for the musical has been ‘surreal’ for Jay. He adds that his high points include having had Elvis as a mentor. “You suddenly see us in these Elvis-style jumpsuits on stage and then you realise why. He had such an impact and that comes out in the show in a funny way.”
The musical also highlights the importance of the fans, condensed in the show as ‘Wendy’ who writes all these letters to them, wondering if they will be read. “You see how reciprocal the relationship is and how we have played a big role in their life as they have for us.”
But he says the highest point of his career is conversely when they hit the lowest point. “I saw a family that went through such loss bound together when it would have ripped most families apart. We got together and we went back and we took care of the problem. I’m not going to tell you what it is, you need to see it, but it comes out at the end and people are saying because of these stories, they are even more endeared to us now than they were before.”
Jay hopes to spread his story far and wide, and to see the musical take off around the world – with some time spent on his project building a home in Wyoming.
“I just want to get the word out about my life as an Osmond. And how wonderful my life has been because of the fans, because of the music, because of the struggles. Without a struggle, there’s no progress. I want to spread that message of hope.”
New Wimbledon Theatre, 23 to 27 August, and touring. theosmondsmusical.co.uk
Main image of Jay Osmond by Aaron McCracken, Brian Thompson Photography
Alex Lodge (centre) and the cast of The Osmonds A New Musical, by Pamela Raith