Alex Lodge Discusses “The Story Behind The Smiles” As Osmonds Musical Plays Cardiff’s New Theatre

This week, get ready for the return of Osmond-mania as The Osmonds: A New Musical takes to the stage of Cardiff’s New Theatre. The new musical relives the story of one of the world’s biggest ever boybands.

The Osmonds: A New Musical tells the official story from Jay Osmond about the five brothers from Utah who were pushed into the spotlight as children and went on to create smash hits decade after decade.

From their star residency on The Andy Williams Show, to the arrival of Donny and Marie, The Osmonds lived a remarkable life recording chart topping albums, selling out vast arena concerts and making record breaking TV shows – until one bad decision cost them everything.

Featuring direction by Shaun Kerrison and choreography by Olivier Award winning Bill Deamer, the new musical features classic 70s hits Love Me For A Reason, Crazy Horses, Let Me In, Puppy Love, One Bad Apple, Long Haired Lover From Liverpool and Paper Roses.

Playing the role of Jay Osmond is Lincolnshire born actor and performer Alex Lodge who discusses the show with Andy Howells.

How long have you being involved with The Osmonds: a New Musical?

For me, it’s been a bit of a journey through the workshops, readings and everything for about three years now. There’s no Osmonds song I probably wouldn’t have heard it in some way or in any capacity!

You obviously started rehearsals before lockdown restrictions?

It’s being written and constructed for about five years. I joined the project about two years into the writing process when they were reading it aloud for the first time and workshopping it, seeing if it worked. We properly started rehearsals for the show as it is now in January of this year, it’s been quite a long and winding road from lockdown and rescheduling!

How did you get into theatre?

I kind of came to it as a teenager. I’d always loved sport, but I’ve never been very good at it. I didn’t have many friends, so Stagecoach was something to do on a Saturday. I  grew to love musicals, but I wasn’t really a singer until I was about 18 when suddenly, my voice broke and I suddenly had a voice. I did lots of comedy characters in local Youth Theatre but then a dance teacher said to my mum “he’s got a bit of talent and could give it a go!”

I was lucky enough to audition for drama schools when I was 18 I had no idea what I was doing, but a lot of angels were guiding me! I went off to London to study for three years and the rest is history and here we are nearly ten years later!

How did you get drawn to the Osmonds musical?

The producers didn’t disclose what it was, so I just got an audition for an unnamed new musical. They were doing a workshop for it but not letting us know what it was, requiring me to turn up, sing a 16-bar cut of a of a 60s 70s or 80s pop song and read a bit of script in the room. I was lucky enough to get offered literally just two weeks reading and workshop which paid the rent for that month.

We were then told what it was and given the first draft version of the script. We sat around the table and every time we got to a song in the show, they played us the original Osmonds record or showed us video of the original dance routine, it instantly leapt off the page.  

It’s the story of brothers in a family that are mega stars around the world. At the heart of it, this show delves into the story behind the smiles and the perfect family image of which they have managed incredibly well for over 60 years. It’s explored from my character, Jay’s point of view. So, when it came to take the project further and they wanted to take me with it, I was very much quite flattered.

There are so many musicals now that are bio-musicals and there’s an incredible back catalogue of songs for new generations to discover. Most people coming will know Puppy Love and Love Me for a Reason, but for my generation mainly it’s because they were covered by Boyzone and S Club Juniors, we didn’t know the originals.

Which Osmonds tracks do you enjoy performing?

We end the show on a big finale that picks up with Crazy Horses which for me playing Jay who sang the vocal in a sparkly jumpsuit and silver glittery boots is a big highlight, especially as it gets the audience dancing!

As the show covers the complete history there’s highs, lows, conflicts, arguments and rifts between the brothers and their family, but by the climax there is a real sense of resolution and brotherhood. That’s when we do Love Me for a Reason and then sing, He’s, My Brother.

Every night, whether it’s a full playing line up or some of our fantastic understudies, the five of us will get to look at each other and just have a moment of complete togetherness. Singing a five-part harmony to a song that essentially says, “I’ve got your back and you’ve got mine.” You look at your fellow colleagues and it might see a bit pretentious but it’s lovely, art imitating life and genuine onstage for us. That’s a big highlight for me!

Have any of The Osmonds seen the show?

The writers are Julian Bigg and Shaun Kerrison who are also the director and music supervisor, but its all based on Jay’s point of view and story, so he’s been heavily involved in the show. When he’s over from the States and in rehearsals he basically sits and watch every single performance, so there are always notes and tweaks from him, little tidbits’ of how each family member would react or behave.

What is it like playing Jay?

Terrifying! The first day I met him three years ago we were all reading, and he came in. Everyone introduced themselves and I went “Hi!!! I.. I.. I’m playing you!”. He gave us all a big hug, but now its like he’s a close friend! Both him and his lovely wife, Karen have been so generous with their time. For me, being an actor its marvellous because if I want to know how he felt or reacted in a certain scene I just go and ask him!

The Osmonds: A New Musical plays Cardiff’s New Theatre from October 4 – 8 2022. For ticket details visit the New Theatre website.

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