Donny and Marie Bring Vegas-Style Christmas Show to the Nation's Capital
Through their long single-duet-family show business career, Donny and Marie Osmond have always pointed out that “she’s a little bit country, he’s a little bit rock and roll.”
And they’re absolutely a lot Las Vegas, but then their touring Christmas show (“Donny and Marie Christmas” at the National Theatre through Dec. 7) is based on a similar razzle dazzle pump-up-the-volume show from their hugely popular Sin City residency.
It isn’t even about that. You get it right away, walking in and when the show begins—this is a full-service, slam bang, high velocity, “this is your life, Donny and Marie” show, and by inference, for a good chunk of the audience, this is their life show, too. These two, the former teen idol Donny looking very cool even when he sweats up a storm in “Soldier of Love,” a contemporary offering from his new album, and Marie, who was 12 when she had a big hit with “Paper Roses,” looking glamorous in a whole wardrobe of all sorts of dresses, gowns, high heels, boots, and lots of still alluring black hair, are American icons, no question about it.
They’re both in their early fifties now, but they still have the big voices—Marie’s now sports a sexy, growly tone along with a belt-em high register and Donny is one cool dude with a rangy, pleasant voice that’s clear and audience friendly. Together and singly they rolled out old hits—brace yourself, when he does “Puppy Love” and the aforementioned “Paper Roses,” newer songs like the upbeat “It’s a Beautiful Life,” and “Soldier of Love,” plus a pack of Christmas songs, most of them so full of pep you want run down the aisle and hop on to the stage.
Actually, that’s what at least a couple of men got to do, including a guy named Steve who appeared to be part of a particularly fanatical group of old-time fans, who made the most of his moment with Marie and she got him to dance and sing.
The audience is the key to this show, which is more of an event than a concert, more of a kind of party where all kinds of things go on. The audience as you might expect is full of Donny and Marie fans from days of yore. They do the wave, they sing, they squeal, they scream. I was reminded of my former life in San Francisco, reading a review by a middle-aged San Francisco Chronicle entertainment reporter about his experience at a concert by Donny in his teen idol days—“Here I was in the middle of thousands of screaming adolescent girls straining against their training bras.” Well, the ladies are still screaming, as evidenced at the National Theatre show.
We know them quite a lot from all kinds of moments—their Broadway musical appearance, their appearances on “Dancing with the Stars” (he won a trophy, she didn’t as Donny gleefully points out in a mock sibling spat), her marriages and tragedies, their rise as teens from a very big family (the Mormon version of the Jacksons), their variety show on which almost every major star of our times appeared as they pass on a big screen backdrop.
Both of them, as they belt out songs with enthusiasm, high spirits, good humor and high energy, work hard here—maybe a little too hard. It’s a show that’s at once 21st century and old fashioned. There are tickets to be won along with a seat in the front row by way of Twitter. There are forays into the audience by Donny and Marie, hugs and kisses abound (one woman has a hard time letting go), Marie scrawls lipstick autographs, and showers of candy fall on the audience.
The dancers in this show are terrific—they’re like Energizer bunnies that never stop. You get exhausted just watching them.
If you’re a Donny and Marie fan, you won’t be disappointed by “Donny and Marie Christmas.” It’s obvious they like being up there. More obvious, they like having you there. In this show, the audience is the third headliner.