By Larry Widen Special to OnMilwaukee Published Jun 06, 2024 at 5:01 PM

“The Broadway show ‘Little Johnny Jones’ was a complete flop, the only failure of my career. It opened and closed the same night." -- Donny Osmond, April 18, 2024

Whether you're talking about stage, song, screen and everything in between, Donny Osmond's had a remarkable career. 

As a singer, Osmond has sold more than 100 million albums during a show business career currently in its 61st year. Along with his sister, Marie, he performed 1,800 shows in an unprecedented 11-year run at the Flamingo hotel in Las Vegas. Osmond also appeared on Broadway as Gaston in Disney's "Beauty and the Beast" and sang Captain Li Shang's "I'll Make a Man Out of You" from "Mulan." Along the way, he also appeared on the competition shows "The Masked Singer" and “Dancing with the Stars," as well as performed "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" more than 2,000 times between 1992 and 1997. 

The next stop on his long career? Milwaukee, as on Friday, June 7, Osmond will bring his entourage and multi-media show from Las Vegas to the Riverside. In a recent interview, he spoke about working for singer Andy Williams, the highs and lows of his Broadway career, and what the current stage show looks like.

OnMilwaukee: You put a lot of hard work into "Little Johnny Jones," which became a Broadway disaster. Can you talk a little about that?

Donny Osmond: There were the usual out-of-town shows in Boston and Washington D.C., after which we went to New York for opening night. It turned out that was also closing night! There was a very influential critic who seemed to have a vendetta against Donny Osmond becoming part of the Broadway family. We had to stop the show three times because of the standing ovations. Go figure. The upside was the intense sessions with vocal coaches who taught me different ways to project when I sang, and the choreographers who showed me how to integrate my movements with the other performers. 

And the tap dancing …

I did it on "The Andy Williams Show" when I was 6, and I’ve been doing it all my life, but my teachers really pushed me. In fact, it was the athletic dancing that stopped the show three times! It’s like we were doing calisthenics up there!

I loved watching the Step Brothers on "The Dean Martin Show."

They were the best! I studied them constantly, and our dance routines on "Andy Williams" were based on their patterns.

"Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" was a much better Broadway experience for you.

And I was ready for it. All the discipline and effort I put in for "Little Johnny Jones" paid off. I was a better team player and more comfortable being one of the actors, and not in a Donny Osmond show.

This show might be the biggest thing you’ve ever done in Milwaukee.

It is. I could make a lot more money doing a scaled-back performance, but that’s not what I envisioned when we were preparing to take this show on the road. My dad taught me that anything worth doing is worth doing well, and that’s stayed with me my entire life. This is an aggressive, high-energy production for those who can’t come to Las Vegas. My entire career will be covered from the 1960s right up to now, and I have lighting people, dancers and musicians that are the best in the business to help me do that. 

What’s your favorite part of the evening?

There’s 20 minutes set aside for requests, and this is when the audience is in control of the show. All 65 of my albums are shown on the screen, and people can ask for any song I’ve ever recorded. The spontaneity is what I love.

Donny Osmond will perform at the Riverside on Friday, June 6, at 8 p.m. For tickets, click here