Donny Osmond Will Let The Audience Call The Tune At Upcoming Show
New Haven Register
by Jordan Fenster
August 22, 2011
Submitted by Thea Moritz
WALLINGFORD — Donald Clark Osmond knows a thing or two about show biz. He starred in his own self-titled television show in the 1970s with his sister, Marie, but before that, when only a child, he and his older brothers became known as the Osmond Brothers, and soon became household names.
“I’ve been doing this for almost 50 years,” Osmond told the Register during a recent interview.
But, despite his decades as a performer, when he comes to the Oakdale Theatre Wednesday. Donny Osmond will be in unfamiliar territory.
He’ll answer questions from the audience, take requests, and make the experience as personal and unique as possible.
“It’s almost improv,” he said, “almost like a smoky lounge. This is the first time I’ve ever done a show like this.”
That’s not to say the show will be haphazard in any way. Osmond said he’s traveling with a “computer geek,” who has access to all of Osmond’s photos and paraphernalia. So, if the audience asks for a certain picture, “boom, there it is,” he said. “And I’m sure the audience will think that was a plant.”
It’s almost hard to believe that there’s show business territory Osmond hasn’t traversed a few times over. (For example, he has “great memories” of the New Haven area, where he performed in the 1980s with Marie. “I love it there,” he said.)
He was a child star and made the transition to teen idol and adult performer, a transition he described as “difficult.”
“I did this maybe backward, because I started out as an entertainer,” he said. “I never knew the business side until I lost my career. I was told I was a has-been at 20.”
For Osmond, show business has been something of a bed of coals on which he’s had to walk. “Everything was financially gone around 1980,” he said, and he found himself without any experience in what might be referred to as “real life.”
“I’ve learned it’s OK to make a mistake,” he said. “I learned a work ethic. I learned that the show must go on.”
“I didn’t know how to prepare a tax return,” he said. “I lost everything.”
But it was walking through that abattoir that Osmond said he learned the most. He learned how to live his life, and he learned how to roll with the show-biz punches. He’s fought financial ruin, greedy and unscrupulous partners, “crippling stage fright” and major image problems. (He was asked by “Weird Al” Yankovic to be in the video for “White and Nerdy” because, Osmond recalled, he was the whitest, nerdiest guy Yankovic could think of.)
“Sometimes it’s best to go through the school of hard knocks,” he said. “It’s very difficult. It’s a razor’s edge that I walk. You’re pushing the envelope all the time. You’ve gotta push those envelopes or you’re vanilla.”
Through it all, Osmond has remained a man of faith. It’s no secret that the Ogden, Utah, native is a devout Mormon, and that’s been something he has maintained throughout his tumultuous career.
“There’s no reason to compromise. If you belong in something, stick to it,” he said. “It’s kept me sane. It’s kept me anchored.”
And through it all, Osmond learned that the key to longevity in show business (and he said, “you have to love this business to stay in it”) is finding an anchor, being a real person. That’s a lesson he says he learned from someone who struggled perhaps more than anyone.
“It’s so easy to start believing your own hype,” he said. “The person who taught me that was Elvis Presley.”
The lesson, as Elvis taught it to Osmond, was, “You can be a star on stage, but when you walk off stage, you put your pants on one leg at a time.”
So when he goes on stage in Wallingford, Osmond will bring with him “50 years of stories to tell,” he said, 50 years of lessons he learned and, as he says, he “learned from the best: Milton Berle, Lucille Ball.”