Not many people can open and close a Broadway show in one night and call it a good career move.
Then again, not many people are Donny Osmond.
Separated from that humiliating moment by nearly 30 years, Osmond looks back at the 1982 failure of the musical Little Johnny Jones and credits it with turning his career — and his life — around. “Tragedy plus time equals comedy,” Osmond says of his Broadway debut in a revival of the 1904 George M. Cohan show. “It wasn’t good at the time, of course. But I can look back now and say that fateful night ... was the very night that began the process of reinventing myself, so I’m grateful.”
As if to prove he harbors no resentment toward the show — which originally introduced songs like “Give My Regards to Broadway” and “The Yankee Doodle Boy” — Osmond plans to include songs from the musical in the innovative, interactive and technology-driven program he’s bringing to the Borgata in Atlantic City on Saturday, Aug. 27.
He’s even going to read aloud some of the Broadway show’s more scathing reviews, which have been tucked away in his basement and which he’s never read.
Naturally, Osmond wasn’t particularly overjoyed when his Broadway debut was a monumental flop. Words like “devastating” and “horrible” pepper his reminiscence of the moment during an early-morning phone call from his home in Provo, Utah.
“I just hated being me,” he says. “I grew a beard, I wanted to change my identity. All kinds of stuff. There was the witness protection program, [I wanted them to] please put me in it.”
Between the failure of the show, his squeaky-clean Boy Scout image, his devout Mormon beliefs and that fact that he was, well, he was Donny Osmond, something had to give.
When he finally came to his senses after such a catastrophic moment in the business, Osmond knew it was time for a career and an attitude adjustment. “[The show] was the match that lit the fire underneath me to say, ‘I’ve gotta do something if I’m gonna survive in show business, because this ain’t working,’” he recalls.
When Don Marrandino, president of Caesars Entertainment’s four Atlantic City properties, asked the Osmonds to bring some of the elements of that show to Atlantic City, Donny was initially hesitant.
Donny Osmond has set a whirlwind eleven-day North American concert tour to take place during the late August/early September hiatus of the Donny & Marie Show, a long-running headlining engagement at the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas. The show comes to the Borgata on Saturday, Aug. 27, 8pm. In an interview with Atlantic City Weekly, Osmond explained that his show will be based on audience requests in a Q & A format, so it will be packed with audience favorites.