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Donny Osmond – Starting Again

Donny Osmond

Starting Again

by Ronald Sklar


"Usually, when you take a big show on the road, you kind of scale it down, to save a little money and make a little money," says legendary performer Donny Osmond. "Well, I've done the opposite. I've embellished it. I'm taking the entire production from Las Vegas and I'm bringing it to the Beacon."


Donny's award-winning Las Vegas production, Direct From Vegas, will make a stop at New York's famous Beacon Theater on Friday, July 12, 2024, with, as Donny promises, all the stops pulled, and the kitchen sink included. 


Will a New York audience set their dark cynicism aside and brightly embrace a feel-good stage show without any sense of irony? 


"They can detect anything that is contrived," Donny says of Big Apple crowds.


There is nothing inauthentic about this live production of his 65-year journey through show business. It's a celebration of his time-tested reinventions, his greatest hits, and his countless memories. He'll also take requests. 


"I put all 65 of my albums on the big screen behind me," Donny says of the interactive request segment. "The audience for about 20 minutes dictates what the show is going to be. Whatever happens live during that segment, you just roll with it. I think New York audiences would appreciate that, because improv is a very difficult thing to do correctly."

Sounds fun, but sixty-five albums may make for a senior moment here and there, when audience members start suggesting deep cuts. 

"A few weeks ago, somebody asked for some obscure album track" Donny says, "and I'll be honest with you, I could not remember the song. I didn't try to hide from it. I actually said, I have no idea about that song. It's very real and you have to take chances and I think that's what New York audiences would want." 

Face it, there is a lot of material to retain ("It took me sixty years to put this show together," Donny says). The show coincides with his work anniversary, which coincides with a new album with the fitting title, Start Again


"I've utilized that saying [start again] so many times in my career," he says. "It's one thing to get a career in show business, but it's a whole other thing to maintain a career. You're reinventing yourself, especially if you start at such a young age. There were so many victims who could not get out of that pigeonhole. I've had to reinvent myself maybe seven or eight times in my life. It's been a challenge to bring the audience along with me and to re-educate them as to what I am doing now."


The audience is diverse, from the Baby Boomer super fans who know all of his sixty-five albums by heart (Donny calls them the Puppy Lovers, after his 1972 megahit "Puppy Love") to today's modern young generation, who may only know his as Captain Shang from Mulan or from his appearance on The Masked Singer. Then, of course, there are the fans of The Donny & Marie Show, where he and his sister delivered a perfect hour of show biz every week for four years.  

"The Donny & Marie Show was just silliness," he says, "but close your eyes and listen to the music – we were doing about an album a week."


What kept him grounded through all the ups and downs? 


"I've lived a life that a lot of people just dream about," he says, "and despite the potholes and the landmines, I had a strong family foundation. My faith, my marriage. People poke fun at it, but, boy, that's what saved me."


Also, we learn the secret of an American legend who had discovered the proper way to go through an extraordinary life: be yourself. 


Of course, Elvis showed him the way. 


"When I first met Elvis, he impressed me so much because I saw him on stage – a monster," Donny says of The King's mastery of the art. "The next night, I'm preparing for a show with my brothers, and [Elvis] walks into the dressing room and he introduces himself ("Hi, I'm Elvis."). I'm fourteen years old, and I remember what an effect that had on me, that I saw a different side to the King of Rock and Roll.” (He was also a little bit country). 

However, behind that drink-milk smile, there has to be some dark moods and total bummers. Right? 


"Everybody has a dark side, and I'm no different," he admits. "I try to be as optimistic as I possibly can. I give one-hundred-and-ten percent on stage, and I expect everyone to do the same. I hand select these people and they get on stage, and they work their butts off. I guess the dark side to me is that I'm very impatient."


Then was it almost all upside? Was it all bubblegum and hair spray? 

"I lost all my money in the early '80s," he says. "I had to start over. I said to myself, 'I'm going to build this career so that I can be doing it for as long as I want.' You've got to be smart when you [start a career in show business]. You can't just say, 'I'm going to sing a bunch of songs.' You have to figure out what is going on in the marketplace."


He even asked fellow legend Michael Jackson for career advice. The King of Pop gave him some tough love. 


Jacko said, "Your name is poison. You've got to change your name." 


The radio did that advice one better: his 1989 megahit, "Soldier of Love," surprised everybody, even (and especially) DJs. WPLJ in New York played the record without announcing who was singing it. The song shot to #1. Donny didn't change his name; he just didn't give it. And this was just when he was getting ready to quit the business. 

"'Soldier of Love' was an accident," he says. "Nobody would touch me. I couldn't get a record deal. I met Peter Gabriel at a UNICEF charity concert in New York. I told him my sob story, and he said, 'not that I bought any of your records, but I think you have a great voice, and I would like you to come over to the UK and I would like to executive produce your next album.' It became a 'mystery artist' thing on the radio."


The good news: Donny had a #1-requested record in the #1 market in the country. The bad news: nobody knew it was him. The mystery didn't last long, even though it was during the tail end of the pre-Internet age. The nation was shocked to learn of the mystery singer, but it didn't freak out; it just chilled along with the song. That break led to more, and Donny was back on top before long, his resume doubling and tripling its content and power.


The intensity could be seen and verified for decades, since he first sang with his brothers (at age five, in the early '60s) on The Andy Williams Show. That was fresh off a barbershop-quartet gig on a Disneyland special. Once puberty hit, Donny was an official teen idol, with thousands (truly, thousands) of fan photos published in teen and movie magazines to go along with his gold records. 


"When you grow up in show business, you really don't know anything else," he says. "That is your life. To have a photographer take pictures of me or to see my pictures in a magazine, that was just my norm. I didn't think much of it."


Continuing his legacy of performing live before adoring fans, Donny subscribes to the work ethic that if you bring it, they will come. 


"I don't phone anything in," he says. 


Donny has partnered with City of Hope so that $1 from each ticket sale will go directly to City of Hope to support their fight against cancer, diabetes, and other serious illnesses. Find out more about City of Hope here


Find out more about Donny here


Copyright ©2024 All rights reserved. Posted: May 6, 2024.

Photos ©2023 Lee Cherry and Christy Goodwin. Courtesy of Guttman Associates PR. All rights reserved.

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