A combination of tear jerking and utterly joyous moments reignited the memories of the full to capacity, Liverpool Empire audience with its current performance of Osmonds, The Musical.
The wholesome Mormon band of brothers regimentally drilled by their father produced hit singles from the 1960s through to the 1980s, despite their young age.
This musical extravaganza written by Jay Osmond gave his perspective of their rise to fame,brush with bankruptcy and the personal toll it took on lives and mental health of the family.
The family which originated from Utah, America, achieved global fame and accumulated a fiercely loyal group of fans worldwide. They appealed to mothers and daughters alike as their innocence, politeness and unquestionable work ethic shone through the decades.
There was a ‘brother for everyone’.
Merill, Alan, Wayne and Jay were the original line up. A quartet of highly harmonised barber shop singers who unlike the Jacksons, another band consisting of brothers and managed by their father, all played a plethora of instruments. Jay portrayed himself as the ‘peacemaker’ of the family. Never questioning his elder brothers and never standing up to his father, who simply preferred to ‘go along with things’ and not receive his father’s wrath that never seemed to be far away. Audiences were made to feel sorry for the boys’ loss of innocence in their pre pubescent, teenage years and early twenties as they had very little control of their creativity and musical arrangements or singles they released. They were grateful for contracts with MBC and therefore had little awareness of their contracts and other business issues. In conjunction with the network, who commissioned the Andy Williams show where they made their first public appearance to over 40 million viewers, their strict disciplinarian Mormon father was in charge of all aspects of their lives.
The brothers career started by singing locally, to raise much needed funds to buy hearing aids for their eldest two brothers who were born profoundly deaf. Their appeal grew and grew, mainly due to their sweet harmonic voices; finally tailored matching suits, made by their mother; their innocent and cheeky little faces belying polite sotic professionalism. They were spotted by Walt Disney and from there their career upwardly spiralled…cataclysmically.
Donny, the dark haired, blue eyed heartthrob joined the band pushing aside Merill from lead vocals. This is where fractions began. Later, the band was joined by the youngest brother, Jimmy. The Liverpool audience sang enthusiastically along to Long Haired Lover From Liverpool as if he was one of their own.
Marie, more of a country singer, also achieved solo fame and later enjoyed hit after hit with Donny. They even had their own TV show, unimaginatively named the Donny and Marie show. What many did not know was, at that point, the brothers had had enough of touring, many had married and they preferred to work and produce, direct and choreograph the dance routines on the show.
Liverpool audiences who are renowned for their love of music were on their feet when they were made to feel they had been transported back to 60s, 70s and 80 as the exceptionally talented actors, singers and dancers sang a medley of hits.
The cast were all exceptionally talented individuals, who portrayed the family at a variety of ages throughout their lives. The younger actors who played the brothers as small boys produced harmonies that belied their years. The actors playing the older brothers, exuded an energy and enthusiasm that left the audience astonished. This show would not have been out of place at London’s West End or even Broadway.
Well done Jay for an excellent narrative and bravo to all the cast, band and crew!