Donny Osmond has missed seven performances of "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat," including two half-performances, since the production began its run Jan. 12.
And there will be no Wednesday, March 4, matinee performance.That's the latest word from Livent Inc., the show's production company. Livent announced the extra matinee on Sunday, but has since retracted, saying "Joseph" had taken a toll on Osmond, who has been battling a viral infection throughout the production's 51-performance run.
Rumors that the star has been ducking out to begin taping his new TV program with sister Marie are just not true, said Grant Ramsay, director of publicity for Livent.
Aside from the fact that Marie has been performing the role of Anna in Rodgers and Hammerstein's "The King And I" in New York City, taping for the siblings' new TV show isn't scheduled to begin until summer in Los Angeles.
"Donny is ill. He's sick," Ramsay explained. "He was under doctor's orders not to perform, although he did try a couple of times and had to quit during intermission. He's a human being and is susceptible to colds and sicknesses."
Disgruntled theatergoers, however, have expressed their disappointment on each of the absences, during which Donny's nephew, David Osmond, has filled in.
David, who starred in certain scheduled performances of the production, is also Donny's understudy.
"I bought my tickets back in December just to see Donny," said Trudy Wightman of Holladay. "I wanted to specifically see Donny in the role. I am a major fan and had grown up to his music.
"I did see David in the production last August and he was great," said Wightman, who attended last Saturday evening's Donny-less performance. "But I really wanted to see Donny. And wouldn't you know it, he got sick."
Wightman said her disappointment reached a high when she was told by Kingsbury Hall staff that she could not get her money back.
Greg Geilmann, general manager of Kingsbury Hall, said the no-refund policy is the norm in the big markets like New York and for other entertainment events.
"It has always been Livent's policy not to refund money," Geilmann said. "During productions in New York, when the star can't go on stage and the understudy performs, there are no refunds," Geilmann said. "I went to see a production of `Chicago' with Joel Gray in New York. But the night I went, he was sick, so the understudy went on. There were no refunds.
"Even in sports, when fans expect to see Michael Jordan playing in a Chicago Bulls game and he happens to be injured, the fans don't get a refund," Geilmann said.
But there were differences between Donny and David's appearances, said Wightman. "I had paid more to see Donny."
Geilmann acknowledged that there are price differences, but discredited the rumor that it was more than $20.
"That's not true," said Geilmann. "There was a $5 difference on the main floor and a $10 difference in the balcony."
From a fan's point of view, however, it's easy to perceive that the shows with Donny did cost more, said Ramsay.
"But that's not the issue at all," he said. "The audience is paying to see `Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.' It's the same production, same musical numbers and same sets. Just Joseph is different."
The fact remains, however, that there is a difference in price, said Wightman.
"We didn't raise the prices for the productions that starred Donny," Ramsay explained. "We lowered the prices for David's performances so he wouldn't be performing in front of a half-empty house. He was in direct competition with his uncle, and we lowered the prices as an incentive for theatergoers to attend David's productions."
Wightman, who has never been to a production in New York, said things wouldn't have been so disappointing if she were at least refunded the difference.
"That would have helped," she said.
As of Tuesday, Livent Inc. had no plans to issue refunds.
"Not at this point," said Ramsay, who emphasized how dedicated Donny Osmond is to the show.
Osmond even performed on the night his fifth child was born, Ramsay said. "He's trying to please everyone. He's doing his best, and he's risking his health to do it."
Osmond, who defied his doctor's orders and performed Monday night, was unavailable for comment.