The Osmond Brothers will open their new show, The Osmond Family Theatre: The 40th Anniversary, Mar. 6 at their home theatre in Branson, MO. Including several Andrew Lloyd Webber songs, the production runs to mid-December 1998.
Jimmy Osmond's assistant told Playbill On-Line rehearsals begin in February. The family will do their usual schedule: two shows a day, six days a week. (They'll take three weeks off in July 1998, but the show will continue with different cast-members.)
The Osmonds already have a theatrical connection, what with Donny's many months on tour with Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. However, neither he nor Marie are part of the Osmond clan doing shows at the Branson theatre. Currently, four Osmonds (plus their kids) are appearing in a Christmas show, running to Dec. 13. The original Osmonds (as seen on TV's Andy Williams Show) are: Jimmy (who also appeared in Dreamcoat), Merrill, Wayne and Jay.
Livent is co-producing the Webber show, which not only features a full orchestra, but will have several scenes performed on ice. (A current tour of Starlight Express is being performed on ice as well.)
Music of the Night showcases the work of acclaimed British composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, who has written the scores to such shows as Evita, Jesus Christ Superstar and Sunset Boulevard. Jimmy Osmond told Playbill On-Line (Nov. 7), "Many years ago I performed Joseph all over the place, mostly summer stock. Then my brother Donny ended up doing Joseph for several years, so audiences identify us with the material and theatrical plays. Plus, Donny did his tour with Livent, which is the licensee of some of Lloyd Webber's material."
Continued Osmond, "Having my own theatre in Branson has been a great experience for the entire family. The main Osmond Brother performing group live here ten months a year. As for the theatre, we have three stages in it. The mainstage is ice, the two side stages are orchestra. We perform on ice, though we don't skate or anything. There are special things we put in our shoes which allows us to perform just as we would onstage. We have ice skaters in lieu of dancers. I used to present ice shows overseas; ice is very popular these days. In fact, we won the number one show in Branson last season with the Osmond Show [titled, "The Osmonds' Big Family Entertainment On Ice"]. The elements worked so well, when we talked to Livent about doing Music Of The Night in a different way, on ice, they were very excited."
Osmond notes that the song selections for Music have yet to be determined by Really Useful Group and Livent. "We know what we want to do," said Osmond, "But Lloyd Webber is very careful to approve everything his works are a part of."
Asked whether the Lloyd Webber show would lead to further legit leanings for the Osmond clan, Jimmy replied, "We love the theatrical world. It's gonna be exciting, but natural. We have 6,000 motor-coaches [tour groups] a year that come here. I really feel that if this and other similar pieces are successful, Branson would be a great home for mounting more theatrical productions. People love it, and so do we, plus we're already part of it. We have the lasers, the ice, and the dancing waters and all those elements."
For tickets to shows at the Osmond Family Theatre call (417) 336-6100.
-- By David Lefkowitz