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Elliot Norton Reviews; Little Johnny Jones


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Elliot Norton Reviews
Little Johnny Jones
Program Number


Series Description

Boston theatre critic Elliot Norton interviews prominent actors, directors and producers on their craft. (Aired from October, 1958 to 1982. Winner of both Peabody and Tony Awards.) Series release date: 1958

Program Description

Elliot Norton’s interviews executive producer Michael Price and actor Donny Osmond about a revival of George M. Cohan’s 1904 musical “Little Johnny Jones” at the Metropolitan Center in Boston. Norton mentions that the two big hits from the show are “The Yankee Doodle Boy” and “Give my Regards to Broadway,” which Cohan wrote and sang. The musical centers around the patriotic American jockey, Johnny Jones (Osmond), who falls in love with the wealthy Goldie Gates when he goes to ride his horse, Yankee Doodle, in the English derby. After Jones refuses to take a bribe from Anthony Anstey to throw the race, he still loses and Antsey spreads rumors that he intentionally lost. After staying in England to clear his name, he returns to America to find that Gates has been kidnapped by Anstey, before he eventually finds her in San Francisco’s Chinatown.

Price talks about his career, which he began at the Goodspeed Opera House in CT, before moving onto Boston and then Broadway. Osmond talks about how he got involved in the show and the parallels between him and Cohan. He did not want to copy Cohan, but did want to capture his charisma. He talks about how he played the role and his thoughts of the play as charming and patriotic. He believes that people will be smiling during the whole performance. Price talks about the acting style used, including the fact that everyone was playing their roles a little over the top, without being campy.

Price talks about how it is an appropriate time and place to be producing this play, because the pride in America has returned. People have gotten through the questioning period of the Vietnam War, when people questioned the validity of being American. As evidence of this, the audience stands and sings the National Anthem with them at the start of each show.

Osmond talks about his career and his transition from teeny bopper idol to serious actor. He feels that people are starting to take him seriously and he enjoys the challenge of acting and taking on new roles.

Director: Joanna Lu. Taped 2/18/1982.

Asset Type

Broadcast program

Media Type


Talk Show
Performing Arts
Chicago: “Elliot Norton Reviews; Little Johnny Jones,” 02/18/1982, WGBH Media Library & Archives, accessed December 18, 2018, http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_90C1ADB1B4EC4AAD83BBD7B1CEE3C1C6.
MLA: “Elliot Norton Reviews; Little Johnny Jones.” 02/18/1982. WGBH Media Library & Archives. Web. December 18, 2018. <http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_90C1ADB1B4EC4AAD83BBD7B1CEE3C1C6>.
APA: Elliot Norton Reviews; Little Johnny Jones. Boston, MA: WGBH Media Library & Archives. Retrieved from http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_90C1ADB1B4EC4AAD83BBD7B1CEE3C1C6
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