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Donny Osmond's making the most of life

His 38-year career in show business has touched upon many aspects of entertainment; the teen idol is long gone, but the confident singer seems ready to stay.

By SHANNON BREEN

© St. Petersburg Times,
published June 7, 2001


The Backstreet Boys and Britney Spears can only hope to be lucky enough to be performing for paying audiences 20 years from now.

Donny Osmond first sang onstage to a live audience at the ripe age of 5. Now 43, Osmond released a new CD in February and is taking his Broadway hits on an international tour with a stop in Tampa.

His concert showcases Broadway tunes from classical musicals such as Guys and Dolls right up to today's Seussical.

The road has been anything but smooth for the former teen idol.

Osmond's 1999 autobiography, Life Is Just What You Make It: My Story So Far, tells of his coping with a debilitating social phobia -- obsessive compulsive disorder -- and reveals that the music industry once told him to, basically, find another day job.

If you didn't read his book, you may have caught VH1's Behind the Music, which put Osmond's life under the microscope.

During the early years, Osmond's publicist informed him that the only way to make it in the industry was to spice up his squeaky clean image; the publicist then launched a campaign with drug overtones.

"It's not like I left the industry on purpose," Osmond said in a phone interview. "They just of kind told me "You're a has-been at 20; it's time to find another line of work.' "

In 1986, singer Peter Gabriel told Osmond that it's the music that matters, not the image. "Gabriel sort of set me straight . . . From that point on, I only concentrated on the music."

Where does Osmond think the boy bands of today will be in years to come?

"I had a great conversation with the guys of 'N Sync, when they were on our talk show," he said. "They all know that (teen-idol status) is a four to five-year run . . . If they don't, they're complete idiots."

Osmond has released more than 25 albums, played the starring role in the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and taken on a host of projects with his sister, Marie, including a 1970s TV variety show, co-hosting the Miss America Pageant twice, and a syndicated talk show, Donny & Marie, which was canceled after two seasons.

For his concert tour, he is joined by an 18-piece band, including a nine-piece string section and four-piece brass section. He plays songs from his latest CD and also songs of the past.

"This has got to be an all-emcompassing tour, not just a current album," Osmond said. "I hated going to a concert and not hearing anything that's familiar."

His show has received good notices. Several reviewers have written that he has matured from a teen heartthrob into a solid singer.

During a performance in Denver, Osmond's first dozen songs were interrupted by fans asking him to sign posters, programs and albums. The Rocky Mountain News reported that one woman went up to the stage in mid-number with a vintage Donny doll and pen in hand. Osmond still managed to keep his famous grin and satisfy the requests.

Maybe he needs a protective fence like they use at some Limp Bizkit concerts?

"Yeah, the mosh pit gets a little wild at my shows," Osmond said.

PREVIEW

WHAT: Donny Osmond performs Broadway tunes from his new CD, This Is the Moment

WHEN: 8 pm. Tuesday WHERE: Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center's Carol Morsani Hall

COST: $29.75 to $54.75

CALL: For tickets, (813) 229-7827.

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