Because I had officially started working for Alan Osmond Productions in 1988, I often found myself in situations that allowed me to meet other celebrities, and to be in places that most people would not normally be. In November 1989, I was at Osmond Studios in Orem, Utah, in the hallway between the dressing rooms and the rehearsal hall when I had two close encounters of the celebrity kind. One of those I’ll save for next week, but today I’m going to tell you about how I got to pretend I was Marie Osmond.
Production was in full swing for the Marie Osmond Christmas Special, and The Osmond Boys were set to be guests. This was in the early days of their career, but I had been working with them for a couple of years already, so I was invited to be with them that day as they worked on the show. More on that in the blog for next week, though.
Alan gathered the boys and we all headed into the rehearsal hall. If you took a tour of the Osmond Studios back in the day, then you might remember what the rehearsal hall looked like. It’s a big box of a room with high cement walls and a ceiling to match. The floor was highly polished wood and at least two of the walls were covered with mirrors. These mirrors allowed the performers to watch themselves as their rehearsed their dance moves for various segments of the show.
When we entered the room, Marie was going through a musical routine with two of her guest stars, Sally Struthers and Lee Greenwood. I had met Lee a few times on the road and at his concerts, but I was here with Alan and the boys, and Lee was busy, so I didn’t say anything to him as we walked past.
Alan set up a tape recorder (yes, we had those back then), and the boys started running through their own number at the second set of mirrors to the right. I stood near them in case anyone needed me to go get something. Suzanne was there, but I’m thinking she had a baby in arms so she was not able to run to get things they might need.
The boys had gone through their number a time or two when I noticed that Marie had left Lee and Sally struggling through the routine on their own. Because the dance required them to all interact with each other, the two remaining where having trouble keeping the dance going without the third.
I turned back to Alan and the boys, who were just wrapping up their rehearsal, when the next thing I knew, someone had grabbed my arm. “Come over here. We need you.”
It was Lee Greenwood.
“What do you need me for?” I asked, completely surprised by his actions.
“You’re going to play Marie,” he said as he started leading me away from where I was standing.
I looked over my shoulder at Alan, who was laughing (something he does a lot of at my expenses it seems). “Go on, Lu Ann. You can do it,” he said.
Right! I thought. Me as Marie. I come from German stock. I’m big boned, and even then carried a few pounds too many. I was going to pretend to be the incredibly petit and tiny Marie. But that wasn’t the worst of it.
“We need you to help us with this dance routine,” Lee said once we got over to Sally Struthers. “I know we’ve met, but I can’t remember your name.”
“Lu Ann,” I said. Sally Struthers put out her hand to shake mine.
“Nice to meet you, Lu Ann,” she said. “You’ll do a great job.”
“You’ll be fine,” Lee added. “Mostly you just need to stand here, and we’ll move you around where you need to go.”
“Okay,” I said, and we got busy.
For the next twenty minutes or so, I played the role of Marie Osmond, first with Lee Greenwood guiding me around, then with Sally Struthers, and occasionally with me dancing on my own between them. I have to admit it was a lot of fun, and it was certainly nothing I ever imagined myself having the opportunity to do, dancing a musical number with two well-known celebrities such as these.
And it wasn’t the last time I had to stand in place for Marie Osmond, but like I said, that’s a story for another time.