5 Questions With Donny Osmond
by Anna Gunderson
August 25, 2011
It’s not a question of what Donny Osmond can do; it’s a question of when he does it.
The perennial celebrity has made his mark doing a multitude of projects, from hosting his own radio show to starring on Broadway. Since 2008, he and sister Marie have performed at the Las Vegas Flamingo Hotel, though the show was only supposed to run for six months.
Taking a break from the Vegas gig, Osmond returns to the Valley Aug. 29 for an intimate concert called “Donny, Basically Yours” at Celebrity Theatre. Here, Osmond discusses the concert’s setting, as well as his lengthy career.
Q: What is different about this tour?
A: It’s a very unique show that I’ve never done before in my life. Most of the show is improvisation, so wherever the audience wants to go, we can go. If somebody asks in the Q/A (during the concert) about the video I did with “Weird Al” Yankovic, boom: It’s up on the screen. If someone asks about the skit I did with Lucille Ball, boom: There it is. Basically, we have all the assets ready and available to do a multimedia show. The band has iPads so that the music of any song I’ve done goes in front of them, and we can play it immediately. I’m actually only taking three musicians with me.
Q: You’ve been playing music for 40 years. How do you stay motivated?
A: It’s all about reinvention. You have to re-create yourself. So many artists come and go, but it’s up to you to keep coming up with new stuff. Case in point, for me, was when I did “Dancing With the Stars.” That show brought a whole new audience to my career and revitalized the current audience. When I (provided a voice to a character in) “Mulan,” that created a whole new young crowd as a fan base. It’s so interesting when you come to a concert because of the demographics you see. At one concert, I saw (everything from) an 8-year-old kid to an 85-year-old woman. I think it’s difficult to find those kind of shows where that wide (of a) demographic can come and enjoy themselves.
Q: You are a performer across several mediums. Which do you like most?
A: I think I’m selfish — I like it all (laughs). The key to success in the financial world is to diversify to protect yourself from short-term falls. For instance, I just finished shooting a pilot with CBS for a network prime-time show that would be on the network either the end of this year or beginning of the next. (Despite that), it’s hard to beat live entertainment because you get immediate feedback. That’s why I enjoy doing live theatre because you can’t hide behind trickery in the studios.
Q: What is the most important lesson you’ve learned amid all your success?
A: Enjoy it! Enjoy the ride, but work hard. I’ve noticed a lot of entertainers who come into the business and feel entitled. That’s why I love shows like “American Idol” and “So You Think You Can Dance.” They take young, talented artists and thrust them out into the masses. Unfortunately, nine times out of ten, (the contestants) feel entitled. They’re not anywhere near a star; they’re only a celebrity. Anyone can be a celebrity — like Snooki or someone like that — but where are they going to be five years from now? Can they sustain their fame? True stars, like Mick Jagger, Paul McCartney, have been able to weather the storm, get over the bumps in the road and are still working.
Q: What do you like to do in your time away from work?
A: I come home. I’m a dad. I went camping the other night with my 13-year-old, and we’re going on a cruise in a few days. When I do the normal things, it balances me. I actually learned that from Elvis Presley when I was 14. I saw him in Vegas, and the next night my brothers and I were opening at the same venue. Before the show, I was in my dressing room when Elvis walks in the door. He was as humble as he can be and normally dressed (not in a costume or anything) and just sat there and talked to us and wished us well. I realized, when I was 14 years old, that you can be a star on stage, but off stage you can be just a normal person. Unfortunately, Elvis wasn’t able to balance his life because of his issues with substance abuse, but I’ve learned from all these people not to lose sight of important things in life.