Wednesday, 21 November 2018

Little Jimmy Osmond is still shaking his thang

FROM Lindsay Lohan to Macaulay Culkin, the wayward antics of former child stars are a rich source of fodder for

FROM Lindsay Lohan to Macaulay Culkin, the wayward antics of former child stars are a rich source of fodder for the tabloids.

But for pint-sized Seventies sensation Jimmy Osmond, who is starring in jukebox musical Boogie Nights, a life of debauchery was never on the cards.

Speaking to the Standard from the US state of Utah, where he lives with wife Michele and four children, the 49-year-old said his close-knit Mormon family kept him on the straight and narrow.

Jimmy, the youngest of the six Osmond brothers, first hit our collective consciousness with his version of Long Haired Lover From Liverpool, which topped the UK charts in 1972 when he was only nine years old.

Despite pressure to match his siblings’ successes, especially those of teenage heart-throb Donny and his TV star sister Marie, he said he always kept a sense of perspective.

He said: “I was always being compared to, say, Jay or Donny, but at some point you’ve got to learn to just be yourself. I accepted that I wasn’t like them; we had talents in different areas.

“There’s a lot of pressure in showbiz, but I’ve always been happy with who I am and haven’t tried too hard to be anyone else.

“I’m really grateful that my parents did something right there, because a lot of my friends got really screwed up by getting too much attention. Fame is a fleeting thing and you can’t let it get to you. I was lucky to have my family — we did this career together, and although we had individual successes I don’t think any of us took it that seriously.

“We also had a lot of mentors in the industry, who took us under their wings and warned us not to get too excited about it all. I think that attitude served me very well.”

This week, Jimmy is flying to the UK for a 47-date tour of Boogie Nights, which comes to the Hexagon in Reading on February 22 and the New Theatre, Oxford on March 26.

It’s familiar territory for him, as he appeared in the show’s West End debut in 1997. This time, however, he’ll be singing alongside fellow Osmonds Merrill and Jay.

The cast also boasts some big British names including reality TV singers Gareth Gates, Andy Abraham and Chico, EastEnders actress Louisa Lytton and Shane Richie Junior. Set in a provincial British town during the Seventies disco craze, Boogie Nights toured the UK five times after its London run and has since toured the world. The soundtrack includes the Osmonds’ hits Love Me For A Reason and Crazy Horses, as well as songs by the likes of Barry White, the Jackson Five, Elton John and Stevie Wonder.

No stranger to these shores in recent years, Jimmy played the Teen Angel in a 2009 West End run of Grease and later starred as Billy Flynn in Chicago.

He has also appeared on TV shows I’m A Celebrity…. Get Me Out Of Here!, Come Dine With Me and Saturday Kitchen, as well as a number of regional pantomimes.

He said: “We all go wherever we feel there’s an opportunity for us, or where people want us to be a part of their projects.

“For me, it’s always awesome to come to the UK because I feel like people want me for who I am — not just because I’m an Osmond.

“I loved being in the original West End version of Boogie Nights and it’s my dream to do something like that again.

“I’ve had a pretty fun life, but I still don’t know what I want to do when I grow up!”

le_SHrSBoogie Nights comes to the Hexagon, Reading on Friday, February 22, box office: 0118 960 6060 or www.readingarts.com and also to the New Theatre in Oxford on Tuesday, March 26, box office (01865) 320760 or www.newtheatreoxford.org.uk

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