REVIEW: Martin Dreyer’s verdict on The Cunning Little Vixen, Opera North, Leeds Grand Theatre, February 17

Stefanos Dimoulas as Dragonfly in Opera North’s The Cunning Little Vixen. Picture: Tristram Kenton

LEOS Janáček’s fairy-tale must be the greenest opera in the repertory, and not only ecologically. It remains fresh.

Equally evergreen is David Pountney’s production, whose origins lie as far back as the Edinburgh International Festival of 1980. It reached Leeds in 1984, the 60th anniversary of this piece.

Happily Pountney, now Sir David, is still around to cast an eye over this revival, although Elaine Tyler-Hall is his associate on the ground. She also resuscitates the original choreography of Stuart Hopps.

The other genius of the founding triumvirate is the late Maria Björnson, her sets and costumes a constant reminder of her supremely imaginative talents.

The rolling hills and downs of the countryside in this multi-purpose set pull back to provide the Forester’s farmyard, the tavern or the foxes’ den. The encroaching forest is cleverly evoked by overhanging branches downstage, in which birds sit screened in rocking-chairs. The ‘melting’ of the icesheets drew a spontaneous round of applause on this occasion.

Elin Pritchard’s lively Vixen Sharp-Ears wins hearts at once with her zest for life, not to say liberation. But it is combined with a youthful innocence in her tone. She and her Fox, Heather Lowe, complement each other ideally in their love-duet, the latter’s extra chest resonance supplying a touch of machismo.

Another mainstay is James Rutherford’s avuncular Forester, underpinning the link with the animal kingdom, a true countryman. Suitably disgruntled as his drinking companions are Paul Nilon’s rueful Schoolmaster and Henry Waddington’s maudlin Parson, each finely drawn.

Callum Thorpe’s vagabond poacher Harašta always carries menace. He freezes in his stance for some time after shooting Vixen, diluting the shock of the event but also allowing pause for thought about man’s treatment of nature; a key moment.

Further cruelty is handled with similar finesse. As Vixen slaughters the cock and five hens – a gleeful ensemble – each throws out red feathers as they collapse. It is no joke, of course, but is made to seem so.

Children people this show as to the manner born, none more so than the squirrels with their parasols and the ten fox-cubs, all the spitting image of their mother. Special praise, too, for the supple dancing of the Dragonfly (Stefanos Dimoulas) and the Spirit of the Vixen (Lucy Burns), as eloquent as the music.

None of these pleasures would have been possible without a conductor alive to the score’s many nuances: Andrew Gourlay is in complete command. An evening as thought-provoking as it is enchanting.

Further performances of The Cunning Little Vixen: Leeds Grand Theatre, February 23, 7pm, March 3, 7pm, and March 4, 2.30pm. Box office: 0113 243 0808 or On tour to Salford, Nottingham, Newcastle and Hull (New Theatre, March 29, school matinee, 1pm; March 31, 7pm;

Mini Vixen, a shortened family entertainment with three singers, a violinist and an accordionist will be performed at National Centre for Early Music, Walmgate, York, on February 26, 11.30am and 1.30pm. Box office: 01904 658338 or

Review by Martin Dreyer

REVIEW: Martin Dreyer’s verdict on Opera North’s Tosca, Leeds Grand Theatre

Opera North beneath Tim Scutt’s cupola in Tosca. All pictures: James Glossop

Opera North in Tosca, Leeds Grand Theatre; further performances on January 28, 2.30pm; February 3, 22, 25 and 28 and March 2, 7.30pm. Box office:  0113 243 0808 or On tour to Salford, Nottingham, Newcastle and Hull until April 1; more details at

EDWARD Dick’s updated production of Tosca has returned to Leeds after four and a half years and under his continued aegis on the surface not much has changed.

Still with us, remarkably, is Robert Hayward, who has held onto the role of Scarpia since Christopher Alden’s 2002 production. Giselle Allen is back in the title role. Those two alone are surely enough to bring Yorkshire audiences back in droves. Both have been stalwarts in Leeds for at least two decades, virtually company principals throughout that time.

Otherwise, interest centres on the British debut of Ukrainian tenor Mykhailo Malafii – in fact he had never set foot on these shores until the rehearsals – and the conducting of new music director Garry Walker, taking over from the (now) principal guest conductor Antony Hermus. This quartet makes a tasty combination of the tried and tested on the one hand with innovation on the other.

So, this is no mere rehash. Quite the contrary. From the moment that Callum Thorpe’s lithe Angelotti shins down the rope from Tom Scutt’s central cupola there is the excitement of fear in the air, although it is balanced by Matthew Stiff’s amusingly bumbling Sacristan and Malafii’s smiling Cavaradossi, who seems not to have a care in the world.

Giselle Allen as Tosca and Robert Hayward as Scarpia in Opera North’s Tosca

When the net tightens, the contrast is heightened. We are reminded that Scarpia is not universally despised when the priest at the close of a rousing Te Deum appears to bless him (echoes of Patriarch Kirill’s espousal of Vladimir Putin). More importantly, Tosca and Cavaradossi establish the warmth of their love in their brief rendezvous.

But Act 2 is the real clincher. The scope of Allen’s soprano is breath-taking, thrillingly determined at the top, a chesty growl of revulsion at the bottom. She has surely never sung better. As she and Hayward chased each other over and around Scarpia’s bed – his “office” in every sense – we were on the edge of our seats. This was for real.

Hayward has refined his Scarpia from a straightforward monster into something more nuanced and sinister, a wily pervert. When he wipes a tear from Allen’s cheek with his finger, it is virtually an act of abuse.

He leaves no doubt of his intentions by pleasuring himself against a bedpost. But his baritone tells us that although his lust is up, so is his anger. This is more than menace; it is hell-bent lechery. His death is horrendously gory. When his body twitched just before the curtain, the person in the next seat almost jumped out of their seat.

Bar sales undoubtedly soared in the interval as nerves were soothed. There are not the same shocks in Act 3 although Tosca’s fall backwards through the cupola, now on its side, is hair-raising enough. By now, Malafii’s tenor has reached full flow. His Act 1 sound was dry and quite tight, but as relaxation kicked in his tone warmed and resonated more broadly.

Mykhailo Malafii, in his British debut, as Cavaradossi and Giselle Allen as Tosca

As the run progresses the stars in ‘E lucevan le stelle’ will doubtless glow more brightly. Alex Banfield is a lightweight Spoletta, more PA than gangster, but Richard Mosley-Evans’s thuggish Sciarrone compensates. Bella Blood (double-cast with Hattie Cobb) is a sweet-toned Shepherd Boy. The modern tech paraphernalia of mobiles and laptops only serves to underline that there are plenty of despots still around.

In the overall analysis, Garry Walker’s orchestra is a character in its own right and pulls no punches. The horns, deprived by retirement of their legendary principal Robert Ashworth, are still right on the button at the start of Act 3; the brass in general are fiercely edgy. One can only admire the way Walker’s orchestral punctuation, especially in Act 1, is so tautly disciplined.

In last November’s round of Arts Council England grants, Opera North was “awarded” a stand-still £10.677 million per annum until 2026, effectively a serious cut. Amid the general whingeing in the British operatic world, Opera North has remained silent and simply got on with it. It’s called Yorkshire grit (as a transplanted southerner I can afford to say that). The proof of the pudding is a Tosca that any company would have been proud to mount.

Review by Martin Dreyer

Opera North’s Tosca plays Hull New Theatre on March 30 and April 1, 7pm. Box office: 01482 300306 or

Corrie soap bad lad Nigel Pivaro reports back for stage duty in The Commitments after turning his hand to journalism

Father and son: Nigel Pivaro’s cynical Jimmy’s Da and James Killeen’s dreamer Jimmy Rabbitte in The Commitments. Picture: Ellie Kurttz

AFTER switching to the fourth estate for a decade and more, Coronation Street bad lad Nigel Pivaro is putting down the notepad to star in the 2022-2023 tour of The Commitments.

“I’m thrilled to be marking my return to the stage in this production,” he says, ahead of visiting the Grand Opera House, York, from November 7 to 12 in the role of Jimmy Rabbitte’s Da in the Irish musical.

“It’s an iconic story that resonates across the years, about people who, though distant from the music’s origins, find communion and expression in the Motown style. A musical genre which was borne out of oppression and which the characters embrace as their own. The Motown Sound is as vibrant today as it was when it first burst through in the Sixties.”

Thirty-five years have passed since The Commitments first leapt from the pages of Roddy Doyle’s best-selling novel with its story of the hardest-working and most explosive soul band from the northside of Dublin,

The 1991 film and a stage musical ensued. Now comes the latest nine-month British and Irish tour, running from next month to July, directed by Andrew Linnie, who played Dean, the saxophonist, in the original West End production in 2013.

The headline news in his cast list is Pivaro’s stage return at 62. “It came about from [playwright] Jim Cartwright saying, ‘how about coming back in? We miss you, mate,’” says Nigel, who forever will be best known for playing lovable Corrie rogue Terry Duckworth from 1983 to 2012.

Nigel Pivaro: Returning to the stage after a long hiatus when investigative journalism became his primary career

“After Jim said that, I started doing some plays for BBC Radio 4, like The Corrupted with Toby Jones, and some commercials, and then the role of Da was offered to me two and a half years ago. I was chomping at the bit: the chance to stretch my theatre legs again in my first theatre role since Bouncers [in 2003].

“But then the first Covid lockdown stopped it for a year, and then more lockdowns put it back another year. Just great! It had been a bit of a slow start for me getting back in, then just as it was gaining momentum, something extraordinary scuppered it.”

Roll on to autumn 2022 for Pivaro’s first appearance at the Grand Opera House since September 2003, when his hot-headed doorman Judd clashed with a fellow soap bad boy, EastEnders’ John Altman’s pontificating yet pugilistic Lucky Eric in John Godber’s nightclub comedy Bouncers.

“I was away from the business for 15 years after that, training as a journalist after doing a Masters degree in International Relations,” recalls Nigel. “I did my NCTJ [National Council for the Training of Journalists) course in Liverpool, my work experience at the Manchester Evening News, and my first staff job was at the Tameside Reporter.”

Freelance reporting ensued for the Daily Star, the Sunday Mirror, the Daily and Sunday Express, and not least Jane’s Defence and Intelligence Review, reporting on military and security topics.

The poster for the 2022-2023 tour of The Commitments, announcing Coronation Street legend Nigel Pivaro as the star attraction

“I travelled to Ukraine in the first war in 2014 and did three tours there,” says Nigel. “So I did my journalism from the bottom up, pushing my specialist knowledge into my reporting.

“Over the years, I’ve done everything from interviewing ex-Corrie colleagues and stars from other shows to doing research for a Newsnight feature last year on the shortcomings of the Manchester police.”

Hold the front page, Pivaro has a musical to perform in a new commitment to the stage. “I did see The Commitments film, attracted to it by the music, not knowing what to expect, other than it was an Alan Parker movie, and I’d always liked him as a director,” he says.

“I was just knocked out by how the music and the story were woven together, when often musicals are, ‘right, let’s do another song now’. The Commitments has a strong narrative, with the music weaved into that story without it kicking you in the face.”

Pivaro has read Doyle’s book too, “but I’ve not seen the play, so I’ve got no preconceptions about the stage show,” he says.

“What I can say is there’s dramatic tension, there’s humour, and there’s music. What’s not to like?! There’s a big band with loads of characters, sexy girls, sexy boys, with all that tension that can happen between band members, even in a band on the back streets of Dublin, as much as between John, Paul, George and Ringo.”

Roddy Doyle: Writer of The Commitments. Picture: Anthony Woods

For sure, the show will feature such soul staples as Try A Little Tenderness, In The Midnight Hour, Save Me, Mustang Sally, I Heard It Through The Grapevine and I Can’t Turn You Loose.

“This is the music that has provided the soundtrack to our lives, as hits in the Sixties and Seventies, and then being re-played and re-played at weddings and funerals and parties ever since. They are the standards,” says Nigel, who admits to having preferred Sweet, Mud and Gary Glitter, “anything that harked back to rock’n’roll”, in his youth.

Will he be singing in the show? “No, I don’t think I get to sing a song, but Jimmy’s Da is a big Elvis fan, so I do get to do a few bars of Can’t Help Falling In Love, but that’s it,” he says.

The Irish accent will be key too. “I’ve done accents all over the place. That’s my job!” he says. “There are certain accents you find you can do off pat, like Liverpool, being a Manchester kid. This Dublin accent had better be there because we have two weeks there at the Olympia!”

Tickets for the York run: 0844 871 7615 or at For Hull New Theatre’s October 31 to November 5 run: 01482 300306 or

Copyright of The Press, York

Corrie bad lad Nigel Pivaro to star in The Commitments at Grand Opera House

Nigel Pivaro: Committing to The Commitments for nine months

CORONATION Street legend Nigel Pivaro will play Da in the 2022-2023 tour of The Commitments, visiting the Grand Opera House, York, from November 7 to 12.

“I’m thrilled to be marking my return to the stage in this production,” he says. “It’s an iconic story that resonates across the years, about people who, though distant from the music’s origins, find communion and expression in the Motown style.

“A musical genre which was borne out of oppression and which the characters embrace as their own. The Motown Sound is as vibrant today as it was when it first burst through in the Sixties.”

Thirty-five years have passed since The Commitments first leapt from the pages of Roddy Doyle’s best-selling novel with its story of the hardest-working and most explosive soul band from the northside of Dublin.

Now comes a new stage production that will kick off a nine-month British and Irish tour in Bromley in September and run until July next summer, taking in more Yorkshire runs at Sheffield Lyceum Theatre from October 17 to 2022 and Hull New Theatre from October 31 to November 5.

Doyle says: “I’m delighted that The Commitments are coming back in 2022 and 2023 and I’m particularly looking forward to seeing how Nigel Pivaro tackles the part of Jimmy Rabbitte’s Da.”

Pivaro, 62, who played lovable Corrie rogue Terry Duckworth from 1983 to 2012, will be directed by Andrew Linnie, whose West End debut came in the original production in 2013, playing the role of Dean, the band’s sax player. Linnie later starred in the lead role of Jimmy Rabbitte in the 2016/2017 UK tour.

Joining the cast as Deco will be Olivier Award nominee Ian McIntosh, no stranger to this role, having previously played Alternate Deco during the original West End run. His past credits include Galileo in the UK tour of We Will Rock You, Sid Worley in An Officer And A Gentleman and Barry in Beautiful – The Carole King, for which he was nominated for Best Supporting Actor in a Musical in the Oliviers.

Further roles will go to James Killeen as Jimmy; Stuart Reid as Joey; Ciara Mackey, Imelda; Michael Mahony, Outspan; Ryan Kelly, Billy; Conor Litten, Dean; Guy Freeman, Derek; Stephen O’Riain, James; Ronnie Yorke, Mickah; Eve Kitchingman, Natalie, and Sarah Gardiner, Bernie.

Maryann Lynch, Alice Croft, James Deegan, Callum Martin, Joshua Barton, Ed Thorpe and Colm Gleeson will make up the ensemble.

Pivaro last appeared at the Grand Opera House in September 2003 in the role of hot-headed Judd in John Godber’s nightclub comedy Bouncers in a face-off with fellow soap bad boy, EastEnders’ John Altman, who played the pontificating yet pugilistic Lucky Eric.

His earlier roles in York were in Attempt To Kill, in 1988, and A Taste Of Honey, in 1989, both at the Theatre Royal; Steven Berkoff’s Greek, in 1993, at York Arts Centre, and as slimy talent agent Ray Say in The Rise And Fall Of Little Voice, in May 2000, at the Grand Opera House.

York tickets are on sale on 0844 871 7615 or at; Shefield, 0114 249 6000 or; Hull, 01482 300306 or

A past production of The Commitments. Picture: Johan Persson

Back story of The Commitments

THE musical has been adapted from the novel by Booker prize-winning author Roddy Doyle, showcasing more than 20 soul classics performed live on stage.

Among them are Night Train; Try A Little Tenderness; River Deep, Mountain High; In The Midnight Hour; Papa Was A Rolling Stone; Save Me; Mustang Sally; I Heard It Through The Grapevine; Thin Line Between Love and Hate; Reach Out (I’ll Be There); Uptight; Knock On Wood and I Can’t Turn You Loose.

The Commitments tells the story of young, working-class music fan Jimmy Rabbitte, who transforms an unlikely bunch of amateur musicians into an amazing live act that becomes the finest soul band Dublin has ever produced.

Placing a classified advert in a music paper, Jimmy auditions a haphazard heap of wannabes before finalising the members of his new band, which he names The Commitments.

Humour kicks in as the band get to know each other and their instruments, grappling with inter-group differences when muddling their way through early rehearsals for the first gig. Just as they improve and begin to gain a name for themselves, they combust.

The backing singers are more interested in the middle-aged, horn-playing legend; the singer has entered Eurovision; the drummer has walked out mid-gig and the saxophone player has dangerous leanings towards a jazz career. How will it end?

Showtime for Anton and Erin as Strictly duo celebrate Fred, Ginger, Chaplin and Elton

Terpsichorean twirlers Anton du Beke and Erin Boag toast their return to the dancefloor in their first tour since early 2020

LONGSTANDING, long-dancing ballroom couple Anton du Beke and Erin Boag are reunited in Showtime at York Barbican tomorrow night (18/2/2022).

After a fallow 2021, when the pandemic put paid to their tour plans, the Strictly Come Dancing alumni have been on the road since January 28 this winter, playing 30 dates that will take in further shows in Yorkshire at Hull New Theatre on February 22 and 23.

“Not only 2021 was lost,” says Strictly judge Anton. “We lost shows in 2020 as well; we were into the last week of our tour, when were going to play York and then go onto Scotland, so it’s been a while since we danced together.”

Sevenoaks-born Anton, 55, and New Zealander Erin, 46, are taking to the dance floor in Showtime, a “glittering tribute to some of the world’s greatest icons of entertainment”: Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, Charlie Chaplin, Shirley Bassey, Tom Jones, Liza Minelli, Elton John and more besides.

Glittering tribute: Anton and Erin are ready to dazzle in Showtime

Returning to dancing after sitting down through the 2021 series of Strictly on the judging panel, Anton says: “To be honest with you. it’s been like ‘wow, I only feel like I’m 28’ because there’s a lot of experience to fall back on.

“We did a few special shows at the back end of last year, like one night in Leeds, where we were only there to do a couple of numbers, and my biggest concern was ‘would the suit still fit’. It did! Then Erin asked, ‘would you do up my zip’, and her dress fitted perfectly too.”

Erin says: “I’m fit! There aren’t many dancers at my age still going strong, but I am, though I’m not the same [dancer] as I was 20 years ago – or even two years ago. But keeping fit is the easiest part. The hardest part is the technical side, but I’ve been really looking forward to the tour as I don’t think anyone will notice that!

“Maybe adrenaline can get you through the first few shows and the presence of an audience can do that too, as well as working with people again, performing with a big orchestra. It’s all about the enjoyment of getting back to dancing again.”

“It’s all about the enjoyment of getting back to dancing again,” says Erin Boag

Six months of preparation have gone into Showtime, a show produced by Raymond Gubbay that combines the dazzle of ballroom couple Anton and Erin with “stunning costumes, fabulous live vocals, a high-energy dance ensemble and a sensational 23-piece orchestra”.

“We have a new sound company working with us, great lighting and costumes,” says Anton. “When there has been no shows, it’s been so much more than Erin and me not being able to put on a show. No shows means no frocks, no work for sound engineers. That’s why it’s important that now that shows are back, the message is clear that people can feel safe to come into a theatre.

“It’s also important that people work harder to make the experience enjoyable, with venues going the extra mile. We get that venues need to be safe, but their job is to make it enjoyable within the safety guidelines. Don’t be officious, be welcoming!”

Anton And Erin in Showtime, York Barbican, tomorrow (18/2/2022), 7.30pm; Hull New Theatre, February 22 and 23, 7.30pm. Box office: York,; Hull,

Copyright of The Press, York

The film flopped but can Rachel Wagstaff’s play crack The Da Vinci Code? Find out at Grand Opera House, York, this spring

Hannah Rose Caton, in character as Sophie Neveu in The Da Vinci Code, at The Temple Church, London,  a location featured in Dan Brown’s story. Picture: Oliver Rosser

THE world-premiere stage adaptation of Dan Brown’s thriller The Da Vinci Code will play the Grand Opera House, York, from May 30 to June 4.

Directed by Luke Sheppard, who was at the helm of the award-winning West End musical & Juliet, the debut tour from January 10 to November 12 will take in further Yorkshire dates in Sheffield, Hull, Leeds and Bradford.

Producer Simon Friend says: “We have a truly stellar cast and creative team bringing The Da Vinci Code to life on stage for the first time, and with Dan Brown’s full endorsement of the show and the talented director Luke Sheppard at the helm, we’re confident that we’ll please devoted fans as well as newcomers to this magnificent story.

“Dan Brown’s epic thriller has been read by millions worldwide and seen by millions worldwide on the big screen, and we’re all looking forward to taking our brand-new stage version to audiences all over the UK.”

Writer Dan Brown says: “I’m thrilled that The Da Vinci Code is being adapted for the stage and excited to see the unique potential of live theatre enhance this story.

Hannah Rose Caton’s Sophie Neveu, Nigel Harman’s Robert Langdon and Danny John-Jules’s Sir Leigh Teabing in The Da Vinci Code. Picture: Oliver Rosser

“The team making the production has been faithful to the book, but will also bring something new for the audience, in what is certain to be a gripping, fast-paced stage thriller and a thoroughly entertaining show.”

Nigel Harman and Danny John-Jules will be performing the roles of Robert Langdon and Sir Leigh Teabing up to April 16 in Newcastle, taking in Sheffield Lyceum Theatre from January 25 to 29 and Hull New Theatre from March 1 to 5.

Harman will re-join the tour from the August 30 to September 3 dates at Leeds Grand Theatre until the Swindon run in late-October.

The casting for Robert Langdon and Sir Leigh Teabing for the York performances and Bradford’s Alhambra Theatre from November 8 to 12 is yet to be announced.

Other roles go to Hannah Rose Caton, in her British theatre debut, as Sophie Neveu; Joshua Lacy, Silas; Basienka Blake, Vernet; Alasdair Buchan, Remy; Alpha Kargbo, Fache; Leigh Lothian, Collet; Andrew Lewis, Saunière, and Debra Michaels, Sister Sandrine/Marie.

Nigel Harman in character as Robert Langdon: Appearing in Sheffield, Hull and Leeds, but not York and Bradford, in The Da Vinci Code

Should you need a quick refresher course on The Da Vinci Code’s plot, the curator of the Louvre, in Paris, has been brutally murdered. Alongside his body is a series of baffling codes.

Professor Robert Langdon and fellow cryptologist Sophie Neveu attempt to solve the riddles, leading to the works of Leonardo Da Vinci and beyond as they delve deep into the vault of history. In a breathless race through the streets of Europe, Langdon and Neveu must decipher the labyrinthine code before a shocking historical secret is lost forever.

The Da Vinci Code has been adapted for the stage by Rachel Wagstaff (Flowers For Mrs Harris, Birdsong) and Duncan Abel (The Girl On The Train). Director Luke Sheppard, who directed What’s New Pussycatat Birmingham Rep, is joined in the creative team by set and costume designer David Woodhead, video designer Andrzej Goulding,the composition and sound design team of Ben and Max Ringham and lighting designer Lizzie Powell.

Sheppard says: “Cracking The Da Vinci Code open for the stage reveals an epic thriller steeped in theatrical potential, rich in suspense and surprising at every turn. Rachel Wagstaff and Duncan Abel’s brilliant adaptation leaps off the page and demands us to push the limits of our imagination, creating a production that champions dynamic theatrical storytelling and places the audience up close in the heat of this gripping mystery.”

York tickets are on sale at; Sheffield,; Hull,; Leeds,; Bradford,

Osmond-mania returns as brother Jay launches musical memoir of Seventies’ hit makers. Grand Opera House awaits in 2022

Danny Nattrass, left, Alex Lodge, Ryan Anderson, Jamie Chatterton and Joseph Peacock as The Osmonds. Picture: Oliver Rosser

THE Osmonds: A New Musical, the story of the Seventies’ hit-making brothers from Utah, USA, will play the Grand Opera House, York, on from August 2 to 6 on its 2022 premiere tour.

Further Yorkshire dates will follow at Hull New Theatre from October 18 to 22 and Bradford Alhambra from November 22 to 26 next year for a show whose world premiere will run at Curve, Leicester, from February 3 to 6.

The Osmonds: A New Musical is driven by a story by Jay Osmond, the drumming  brother who sang lead vocals on Crazy Horses, recounting how they were pushed into the spotlight as children and went on to create multiple smash hits.

From their star residency on The Andy Williams Show from 1962 to 1969, through Osmond-mania pop stardom from 1971 to 1975, to the arrival of The Donny & Marie Show, a variety TV show from 1976 to 1979, The Osmonds lived a remarkable life recording chart-topping albums, selling out arena concerts and making record-breaking TV shows. Until one bad decision cost them everything. 

“I’ve wanted to tell my story for such a long time and the opportunity to create this beautiful musical, a sort of ‘living autobiography’, seemed the perfect way to do so,” says Jay, who first performed with Alan, Wayne and Merrill, later joined by Donny (with Little Jimmy and sister Marie playing their part in the success too).

“I spent my whole life performing live – on stage, on TV specials, in arenas – so the buzz of live theatre felt like the perfect place for me. There were some difficult times in my life, and some big hurdles to overcome, and this musical will tell people things that will surprise them.”

Jay, 66, continues: “But despite that trouble, when you look back and think of the fans, the music, the once-in-a-lifetime things we did, it’s joyful. I guess I want to do this now to try to spread a little bit of that joy. 

“I’ll know I’ve done a good job telling this story if I stand at the back of the theatre and see people waving their arms in the air, singing along and dancing in the aisles. I just want people to be enjoying themselves. I guess that is in the Osmonds’ DNA.” 

The Osmonds: A New Musical will feature such Seventies’ anthems as One Bad Apple, Down By The Lazy River, Crazy Horses, Let Me In, Love Me For A Reason, (We’re) Having A Party, Donny’s Puppy Love, Little Jimmy’s Long Haired Lover From Liverpool, Marie’s Paper Roses and more besides. 

The Osmonds have sold more than 100 million records worldwide and won 59 gold and platinum awards, and now Jay pulls back the curtain to reveal the real family behind all these hits: parents George and Olive Osmond and their nine children, Virl, Tom, Alan, Wayne, Merrill, Jay, Donny, Marie and Jimmy.

From Jay’s story, The Osmonds: A New Musical has a book by Julian Bigg and Shaun Kerrison and will be directed by Kerrison, with choreography and musical staging by Bill Deamer. The full casting is yet to be announced.

The seeds of the musical were sown by Jay’s 2013 autobiography, Stages. “I wrote this book about my life. It turned into more of a travelogue,” he says. “I always wanted to do a backstage version that included not only the good times, but the bad and sad times too.”

Whereupon a producer friend had an idea: “He said ‘why don’t you write a living memoir and put it on stage?’ And I thought, ‘Exactly’! I’ve always loved the stage; for me it was one last frontier to conquer. 

“I wrote it from the heart. It was hard. I had to play my drums a lot to get my emotions out, but it all boiled down to this: why did we do what we did? It was because we wanted to help people; to use those talents to do some good in the world. I wanted to put that purpose into the show. I think you can do almost anything in life if you have a purpose.”

More than 30 songs are combined with Jay’s story in the musical. “It was a challenge,” he admits. “It’s about the four brothers who were at the start. I was one of them. The story starts at the 50th anniversary and then goes way back. Each of us has a different perspective, so this is very much my perspective; hard times, fun times, why we did what we did and how we did it as a family.”

Should you be wondering why the world premiere will be in the UK, rather than the USA, Jay reasons: “This is where our family was so welcomed. Osmond-mania kind of happened everywhere, but there was something about the UK; our family was so accepted and so loved here.

“We’ve been to almost every place on the tour list at some point and they are places that hold so many memories. We’ll go to Canada and America too, sure, but it feels right to begin here.”

Jay believes the Osmonds’ musical could not be better timed after the impact of the pandemic. “I want it to be a celebration of helping people out,” he says. “I want people to walk out of the theatre feeling lifted and excited about life; to feel joy. That’s my goal.

“I’m humbled that we’ve been blessed with people who have loved our music and that we might have played a small part in their lives when they have faced challenges. I want them to know how much they have helped me and my family. They are part of The Osmonds. It will feel like a high school reunion when they come to the show.”

York tickets are on sale on 0844 871 7615 or at; Hull, 01482 300306 or; Bradford, 01274 432000 or

Jay Osmond

Jay Osmond’s back story

JAY was the instigator of many of the projects that kept the Osmond family together and moving forward during all the years of success. He is the youngest of the original Osmond Brothers group, with a career in entertainment that started at the age of two and a half. 

Jay was eight years old when he learned to play the drums and later he collaborated with the brothers on many of the hit records, singing lead vocals on 1972’s Crazy Horses, their best-selling international single. 

He choreographed the shows for the Osmond Brothers, as well as for Donny & Marie, using a style influenced by his karate skills learned from his personal instructor, action-movie actor Chuck Norris. 

Jay worked behind the scenes as a producer, with production credits for the 1970s’ television programmes The Donny & Marie Show and The Osmond Family Hour, the 1980s’ variety show Marie, the film depiction of the life of the Osmond family, Side By Side, and the family’s 50th Anniversary PBS special and DVD projects. 

He released a solo album, It’s About Time Again, in 2009, and his autobiography, Stages, in 2013.

Did you know?

JAY and brothers Alan, Wayne and Merrill started a barbershop quartet to fund hearing aids for their two older brothers, Virl and Tom. Discovered by Walt Disney in 1961, he mentored them, leading to their invitation to appear on The Andy Williams Show. The rest is pop history.

Did you know too?

JIMMY Osmond played slick lawyer Bill Flynn in Cabaret at the Grand Opera House, York, in April 2009.

Marti in the mood to party as he kickstarts Greatest Hits Tour at Scarborough Spa

All smiles: Marti Pellow returns to the concert platform tomorrow night

GET your dancing shoes on, it’s time to party with Marti, says that Pellow fellow ahead of the opening night of the first leg of his Greatest Hits Tour at Scarborough Spa Theatre tomorrow (9/11/2021).

Next spring’s second leg will bring the former Wet Wet Wet frontman, soulful solo singer and musical theatre star to Hull New Theatre on April 25 and York Barbican on May 3.

“Throughout lockdown, I was inundated by beautiful messages from fans, asking me to please organise a tour once we come out of these terrible times. Twelve million people tuned in for the Lockdown Sessions I did and each one of you has inspired me to make this tour happen this year,” says the 56-year-old Scotsman.

Expect both Wet Wet Wet and solo material. “I finally wanted to put together a show that would celebrate all the wonderful music throughout my career and that I – and I know all of you – fell in love with again through the sessions.

“All through lockdown, when I could only communicate with my fans through my social-media platforms, you – the fans – would ask me to sing songs from the beginning of my career right up to the present day.

“It was a joy to get such great feedback from everyone and got me thinking about a greatest hits tour, where we could all enjoy those songs again and where I could enjoy singing them.”

Cover versions are promised too: “During the sessions, I also got to cover songs from other songwriters that were either favourites of mine, or had been suggested by you all,” says Marti. “I think they resonated with everyone so much that I’m looking forward to including some of them in the shows.”

Selections from Marti’s March 2021 album, Stargazer, will feature as well. “I finally got to write the songs that let me pay homage to all my heroes. I can’t wait to sing those songs live for the first time,” he says.

Tomorrow, the wait will be over. “It’s all about connection, all the things we love about live music that were taken away as we navigated the last year and a half in the strangest time that has ever happened to my industry, when we’ve lost friends from the industry that make performers look good: the sound engineers; the tech crews, the riggers,” says Marti.

“It’s all about connection,” says Marti Pellow as he whet, whet, whets his appetite for launching his Greatest Hits Tour tomorrow in Scarborough

“I could do certain things to keep myself busy, but though you can prepare for a rainy day, you can’t prepare for a rainy year and a half, and our industry was the first to go into storage and the last to come out.”

Marti’s Lockdown Sessions kept that all-important connection with fans with those 12 million hits. “Incredible! Here’s how it happened. I’m going about my business, and I got this wee email from the guys that run my social media, who sent me a wee message from someone asking if I’d sing a song for a relative who had Covid, so I recorded a song into my phone, hoping she would recover, and the response I got to that song was phenomenal,” he recalls.

The series of recordings ensued. “It worked for me because it wasn’t just ‘digital noise’. It really was a sense of connection, and I got just as much from them as everyone else who watched them did,” says Marti.

“James Taylor sent me an email after I did one of his songs and Annie Lennox wrote me a beautiful message too.

“I sang whatever took my fancy or whatever anyone asked for. Me and my musical producer, Grant Mitchell, created the tracks during the daytime, with me recording in the spare bedroom, where there are all these pro-tools going on, and Grant doing all the arrangements, creating the tracks, putting the reverb on.

“You can still see them on Facebook and my YouTube channel, and I also did lots of Q and A stuff, talking about growing up in Clydesdale.”

Now he can look forward to the tour’s opening night, as he enthuses about his fans: “You spoke and I listened. This brand-new Greatest Hits Tour is about finally being able to come together to celebrate love, life, and remember those we may have lost along the way.

“Most of all, it’s about enjoyment and celebrating the here and now. Get your dancing shoes on – it’s time to party with Marti!”

First stop, Scarborough Spa Theatre. “You have to have fish and chips in Scarborough, because we all have so many memories around fish and chips, debating about where you can find the best fish supper,” he says. Any recommendations for Scarborough, let Marti know via his social media.

Marti Pellow: Greatest Hits Tour opens at Scarborough Spa Theatre tomorrow (9/11/2021); box office, Also: Hull New Theatre, April 25 2022,; York Barbican, May 3,