Jimmy Osmond - Panto Interview
BUZZ - South Wales Culture
December 6, 2011
Jimmy Osmond appears at the Swansea Grand Theatre from Fri 16 Dec until Sun 15 Jan in a very special production of Aladdin which features exciting 3D elements throughout the show. We spoke to the star of the show ahead of his appearance in this winter’s exciting panto to find out a little more about the show and what he loves so much about panto entertainment.
Have you performed in Wales before?
Yes I have in Cardiff, but never Swansea, so I’m looking forward it. [Panto] is really fun, and in the last couple of years I’ve been in some plays that have toured around, and it’s really nice to go to the countryside and not play the same arenas. It has been really nice to see everything; Swansea is a really nice town and everyone is really friendly.
So you’ve performed in pantomimes before?
This is my third one, but it’s a different role for me. The last two times I was Buttons in Cinderella, and this time I am Wishee Washee in Aladdin. Hopefully they’ll let me do some of the hit records that I’ve had in the past. I love musical theatre; I grew up performing family entertainment and performing this type of thing. Americans don’t get what panto is, but I get it and I love it.
I kind of grew up in the vaudevillian, old Hollywood way, working with the likes of Milton Burl and that kind of slapstick comedy style. That’s kind of what pantos are with current music.
You must be looking forward to the 3d aspects of this performance
This is actually the first time that I’m in a 3D show. I’ve taken a 3D version of this over to China, and it was a remarkable experience to take a panto to China where it went down really well. I thought all theatre was in 3D, but this production is fantastic as you get to put the glasses on and rocks, a lamp or whatever comes at you. I just think that it’s one more thing that makes it really fun and interactive. That’s what panto is, people yell or boo at you, start laughing at you – hopefully clapping by the end. I like that interaction.
Do you think that it can be hard for pantomimes to stand out with so many appearing each year? Do 3D aspects help increase the appeal of pantomimes?
Anything new or creative is fun for live theatre, and I think this production has everything going for it. It’s a story people like and know, and yet it has something that people maybe haven’t experienced before.
Next year you will be coming back to Wales with your brothers in the final Osmond’s tour. Are you looking forward to it?
I’m not quitting yet, but the truth is it’s the last of this lineup of brothers that have worked together for 54 years. It’s a long time to work together having never stopped, and It has been the longest running group in history having never been disbanded. I’ve only been working for 45 years so I’m the new guy on the block.
It’s bittersweet. I hope to keep touring and doing productions that maybe include some of my brothers. There’s a magic on stage, or there has been anyway for that many years and that’s because we enjoy what we do when we’re all together. It’s 50 dates which will be the biggest tour we’ve ever done. To be able to play more small and intimate dates and venues will be a real treat.
How do you cope with the hectic panto schedule over the festive season?
I’m used to it. At one time we did over 300 shows in a given year – two shows a year, 10 months a year – but that’s what I do and that’s what I’ve been trained to do. I really like the people in this production; they’re very fun and really nice people. Everyone in Swansea is really nice. It always makes for a great Christmas to have a panto in your life.