VAN WERT – It’s been 15 years since the then-new kid on the entertainment block in northwest Ohio first opened its doors. Among the performers to grace the stage of the Niswonger Performing Arts Center in Van Wert during that inaugural season was legendary vocalist Marie Osmond.
Fifteen years and more than 350 performances by myriad entertainers later, Osmond will return to the Niswonger stage on Saturday as part of the center’s “Fifteen Years of Fame” celebration.
Joining Osmond on stage will be the Lima Symphony Orchestra and the Select Youth Choir of Van Wert County.
Tafi Stober, executive director of Van Wert Live, the umbrella organization of the Niswonger PAC, said Osmond first performed at the center for back-to-back sold-out performances in 2007. Stober is excited to welcome the versatile performer back to Van Wert.
“Marie is a fantastic individual … so personable,” Stober said. “She will be attending a pre-show Crystal Commemoration dinner to meet patrons, and not all entertainers will do that.”
Stober is equally excited to welcome a cast of supporting musicians and vocalists from the community to the stage.
The youth choir is comprised of 43 fourth-graders from Van Wert, Crestview and Lincolnview schools. They will accompany Marie on two songs during the evening. Stober said the students’ presence “is a fantastic opportunity for them to be inspired and to release their talents and imagination.”
Also backing Osmond will be the 30-piece Lima Symphony Orchestra.
“We are thrilled to work with the orchestra again. We have a great relationship with them and it’s been a couple of years since they’ve been on our stage,” Stober said.
Elizabeth Brown-Ellis, the orchestra’s executive director, said the musicians who will join Osmond on stage are “prepared and excited” to take part in the event.
“I haven’t seen the set list, but I know the musicians have received their charts and have been rehearsing. I think it will be a lot of fun,” Brown-Ellis said. “We always enjoy the opportunity to perform at the Niswonger. They are such a presence in the community. It’s hard to believe it’s been 15 years already” since the venue opened its doors.
Show’s music to span six decades
During a telephone interview with The Lima News, Osmond said concert-goers will be treated to “a show that’s jam-packed” with numbers from her six-decade musical career, ranging from her 1973 debut single “Paper Roses” to her newest album, “Unexpected,” which debuted atop Billboard’s Classical Crossover Albums Chart following its December 2021 release.
“I was shocked when ‘Unexpected’ debuted at number one. You just don’t do something like that at my age,” Osmond joked. “I guess I’m just kind of unique that I can sing songs from multiple genres.”
Her appearance on stage with the Select Youth Choir of Van Wert County is a departure from the norm for Osmond, but one which she is anxiously awaiting.
“When I heard (that singing with the youth choir) was an option I said, ‘Absolutely.’ It’s going to be incredibly fun,” Osmond said. “And I’m also looking forward to performing with the symphony orchestra. It’s wonderful to have all these professionals on stage with you. When you hear the music, it’s going to be a feast.”
Osmond’s career got its start in the early 1970s as a solo artist and later teamed with brother Donny — already a member of the popular Osmond Family musical group — for a duet act. By 1976, the duo transitioned into television with “Donny & Marie,” a variety show that ran until 1979.
The siblings reconnected onstage later in their careers for an 11-year run at the Flamingo casino in Las Vegas that ended in 2019.
Osmond also branched out to become a television performer, talk show host, dancer, actor, author, entrepreneur and public speaker.
“This has been the most wild 60 years of my life,” Osmond said. “To see these incredible fans that come out to the shows — there are often generations of family members in attendance — it’s crazy. But I love what I’m doing.”
Tickets are still available for Osmond’s performance and also for a pre-concert Crystal Commemoration Dinner. Visit vanwertlive.com for more information.
IF YOU GO
What: Marie Osmond with the Lima Symphony Orchestra and the Select Youth Choir of Van Wert County
Where: Niswonger Performing Arts Center in Van Wert
When: Saturday, Oct. 1, at 7:30 p.m.
Cost: Tickets start at $49