Donny Osmond coming to area this month


Donny Osmond's first concert tour is a risk. He's going to let the audience dictate the content. The quintessential entertainer will be at the Luhrs Center at Shippensburg University on Friday, Aug. 26. It will be his third performance in an eight-city run, including Phoenix and Vancouver. The rural community made his list because "fans are there too. And it worked out logistically."

Osmond spoke to the Echo Pilot by telephone Aug. 4. He was home in Utah, with the day scheduled for press conferences to promote his solo concert tour. The traveling show is something he has wanted to do for a long time, and he is giving it a new tack.

"Depending on the demographics of the audience, the songs will be different for each performance," he said. A self-proclaimed computer geek, he, a sound technician and three musicians are bringing a repertoire of perhaps 1,000 songs. With a question and answer type format, Osmond plans to let the crowd select his songs. And because of his varied career, requests could range from when he was five performing on the Andy Williams Show, to his teen hit 'Sweet & Innocent',  to the duet with his sister Marie 'Morning Side of the Mountain' before she was "a little bit country" and he was "a little bit rock and roll" during their prime time television show. Maybe other audience members will favor something from a Broadway show or a tune from one of his 55 albums.

Osmond, 53, has garnered younger fans too, because of his voice-over as Shang in the movie Mulan, or his fancy feet on Dancing with the Stars, and his game show hosting stint for Pyramid. He was even in the video White & Nerdy with Al Yankovich a few years ago. The family-oriented tour 'Basically Yours' will let him show how his music has evolved over the decades.

"This is a stretch for any artist," he said. "It's a very bold thing to do. You don't know what's going to happen. Because of multi-media, the bar has been raised. Let's call it what it is. People want a good show. I want them to walk out of there saying they really enjoyed it."

He will follow a tip he learned from Frank Sinatra, to put his heart and soul into each song, to set it up and let the listeners know the meaning of each for him. He will be a little more like Mick Jagger at the February Grammy awards, who stood in the spotlight with just a microphone, rather than like Lady Gaga or Cee Lo, who used glitz and stunts. And he will include a video of a recently-recorded song with his brothers.

At the Luhrs Center Osmond looks forward to being almost one on one with the audience for 90 minutes. "It will be up close and personal. I can't even do that in Las Vegas because, for one, I have to share the stage with Marie, and with the professional dancers."

He has seen the Luhrs auditorium online and considers it beautiful. The entourage is flying to each of the shows, squeezing them in before the Osmond siblings return to the Flamingo Hotel in Sin City.

A performing life

Osmond is the seventh of nine children of George and Olive Osmond of Ogden, Utah: Virl, Tom, Alan, Wayne, Merrill, Jay, Donny, Marie and Jimmy. The musical careers of those who sang together since 1958 spanned barbershop, variety shows, pop, country, rock and roll, and successful solo careers for the youngest three. Osmond and Marie did 10 shows in Las Vegas in 2008 and were a hit. The Flamingo signed them to a six week contract, "and look at us now, in our fourth year," he said.

Growing up in the public eye, he's been able to try just about every avenue for entertaining. He's been on television and in films, on live stage and in the recording studio. He said he's kept an open mind on opportunities. Just a couple weeks ago producer Nigel Lithgow approached him about hosting a game show for CBS. The pilot for "Secret Fortune" was taped and he'll know within a month if the series is picked up. He has a radio show airing in markets in the United States and Canada. The Las Vegas show goes on five nights a week.

If the right movie came along, Osmond would like to act again. Another gig he would enjoy is singing a duet with Justin Bieber. "He has been compared to me."

With so much going on, Osmond strives to find balance. He and his wife Debbie have been married for 33 years. They have five sons and three grandchildren. He was planning a camping trip with Debbie and his 13-year-old. They like to hang out at the backyard pool, too.

"Work hard but keep a normal life, too," he said of his intentional efforts. His friend Michael Jackson was unable to do the same. Osmond shared that a year before he died, Jackson called from hiding in Phoenix with his children. Osmond invited them to Utah for some private time, to relax and go hiking in the mountains. Jackson said he would, but never did.

Pondering a motto to live by, Osmond finally said, "Go for it! Live life, not on the razor edge, but experience it!"

And one of those experiences is performing in a college town in south central Pennsylvania.