REVIEW: THE OSMONDS @ THE PRINCESS THEATRE
🎭 THE OSMONDS
📍 Princess Theatre, Torbay Road, Torquay, Devon, TQ2 5EZ
🗓 Tuesday 30th August 2022
LOVE THEM FOR A REASON!
The Osmonds is a brand new musical which charts the life and times of undeniably the most successful musical family the world has ever known.
Written by Jay Osmond, his character in the show takes on the role of narrator throughout. At times the narration seems a bit long winded and more of an excuse to share anecdotes rather than moving the story along.
Alex Lodge (The Book of Mormon, Saturday Night Fever) played the role of Jay convincingly and he was engaging to watch and very likeable. He has a lot to do and his energy levels never dropped throughout. He had a great singing voice too.
Merrill was played by Ryan Anderson (West Side Story, Grease). He also had a good singing voice and was perhaps the most interesting character to watch. You really feel his pain at certain points throughout the story.
The most successful brother is Donny who was played by Joseph Peacock (Bat out of Hell, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat). Peacock really embodied the character and had strong vocals throughout. During his rendition of Puppy Love he really worked the audience, who went wild. The first few rows of the theatre were filled with stalwart fans of The Osmonds and in that moment it was as if they had been transferred back to their teens.
Danny Nattrass (Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Mamma Mia!) took on the role of Wayne with beautiful believability and the role of Alan was covered at this performance by Alex Cardall (The Season, Evita).
Matthew Ives (The Addams Family) who is a swing on the tour covered the role of Andy Williams. He seemed comfortable in the role and I enjoyed his character and his singing voice. I am a great supporter of swings and covers as I believe they are the backbone of theatre, especially in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Georgia Lennon (Lady Chatterley's Lover, Beauty and the Beast) gave a stunning performance as Marie. She perhaps had the best singing voice in the company and it would have been nice to hear more of her vocals. Her interactions with Peacock as Donny & Marie were beautiful to watch and their voices complemented each others well.
This production also has some child actors who played the brothers at the start of the story and also in some flashbacks. I am not generally a fan of children in musicals as they don't usually do much and seem to get a huge round of applause simply for being there! This is not the case in this production. These kids are really hardworking and have a lot to do throughout. Their harmonies are fantastic and they are obviously very well rehearsed.
Due to their ages, each role is shared by 3 different children and I'm not entirely sure of their names so will not mention them individually in case of error! I do know that Young Jimmy Osmond was played by Austin Riley (Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat) and he gave a good performance of Long Haired Lover From Liverpool.
The entire cast were great and Katy Hards (Mamma Mia!, Chicago) was sweet as number 1 fan Wendy and Charlie Allen (Bug, The Taming of the Shrew) and Nicola Bryan (One Blue Heaven, Me and the Girls) as the parents of the family were authoritative and believable throughout.
One thing about this production is that because the songs are obviously all from the back catalogue of The Osmonds, the music is all very middle of the road. There are no big numbers to blow the audience away. Everything is kind of the same and for musical theatre you really need more variety and some big songs to define the show.
What is also different with this production is that 99% of the songs are sang as a performance, meaning whenever they are singing they are supposably in front of an audience or on TV. This means that although the singing is good, there is no emotion in the songs which you really want from a theatrical production.
That being said, I did enjoy this show and I probably would have given this production 4 stars if it wasn't for the technical failings throughout the performance.
Almost every time Jay came on to narrate he was in darkness and there seemed to be a delay in getting him lit. There also seemed to be confusion over which character should be lit at times and on one occasion there was audible laughter from the audience as the lights seemed to almost chase the actors around the stage.
Another issue was that the actors microphones weren't always turned on when they started talking so you would miss some dialogue.
The main technical issue however for me was the levels of the music. It was often hard to hear the actual words being sung because the music drowned out the singing. This was true of both the adults and children and was also true if music was playing when a character was speaking.
Perhaps this wouldn't have been such an issue if I knew the songs better and therefore knew what the lyrics were!
I understand that because of the logistical constraints at this venue that the band are a little way from the stage so I don't know if that was a factor, but I have seen many shows at this venue and not noticed this as an issue before.
Unfortunately because all this issues happened constantly throughout the production, they did drag my star rating down. Once or twice is acceptable but when the issues just keep happening there is definitely a problem somewhere.
Overall, the show itself was enjoyable and I'm glad that I've seen it but I'm not sure I would rush back to see it again in the near future. There were a lot of fans of The Osmonds in the theatre last night and I'm sure that this is the demographic the show is aimed at. It's almost a love letter to the groups loyal fans.
For me though, when comparing it to other current jukebox musicals such as The Drifters Girl, Jersey Boys and The Cher Show, this production unfortunately does not match up to the energy and excitement of the others. I usually leave the theatre singing the songs and am empowered to listen to the original artists on my homeward journey, but this was not the case on this occasion.
It's definitely worth seeing though and as I said, if I was to review this show again it would receive a 4 star rating as long as the technical issues had been remedied.
The Osmonds is playing at Torquay's Princess Theatre until Saturday 3rd September and currently has scheduled dates across the UK until December with further dates to be announced. For the complete list of tour dates, to book tickets, to check out cast biographies and buy merchandise head to www.theosmondsmusical.co.uk.
All views are my own and I pride myself on being honest and free from influence.