For millions of people growing up in the ’70s, spending the holiday season watching the “Osmond Family Christmas” with your loved ones was a tradition akin to watching a red-nosed reindeer or a snowman with magic in his hat.
That’s why it was no surprise that when the legendary brother and sister team of Donny and Marie Osmond decided to stage a Christmas show about five year ago, it was a rip-roaring success.
“A lot of people think that all the Osmonds get together for Christmas but it’s just not possible so Marie and I decided to do this family Christmas show. Andy Williams used to do this all the time and this is kind of following that model,” Donny Osmond says. “We did an experiment five years ago and took the Christmas show to Broadway and we had no idea that people would be that excited about a Donny and Marie Christmas show and every year since we have gone on the road with it.”
This year, the musical siblings bring the show to D.C., when Donny & Marie: Christmas at The National plays Dec. 2 – 7 at The National Theatre.
“It’s not just a bunch of Christmas songs, it’s so much more that that,” Osmond says. “In my opinion, as a producer, when you come to a Christmas show, sure you want to hear Christmas music, but you want to be thoroughly entertained from top to bottom. We’re bringing all kinds of production with us—it’s a huge show.”
For the past seven years, Donny and Marie have been selling out show after show at Las Vegas’ Flamingo Hotel, and the past three years have been named “Best Show in Las Vegas.”
“We’re going to bringing a lot of the elements from our Vegas show with us to D.C. It’s a full show with the dancers, the multi-media, and a full band,” Osmond says. “We know not everyone can come to Las Vegas, so this allows us to get out there and show people what we’re all about.”
Of course, fans know that means to expect a little bit country and a little bit rock n’ roll, as hits such as “Paper Roses,” “Morning Side of the Mountain,” “Soldier of Love” and “Puppy Love” will be mixed in with the holiday tunes.
While Donny and Marie have had this “magical pairing” on stage since they were little, Donny admits that like any siblings, the relationship is a little Fire and Ice.
“Marie and I, despite rumors that go around, actually get along, but there are times we are at each other’s throats because we are both producers and have individual likes and dislikes,” he says. “We come up with everything for the show together. In the past we have brought people in to help guide us—sort of as an arbitrator, but at the end of the day, Marie and I make the decisions as to what goes on that stage. That sibling rivalry and jokes are all organic and real.”
DONNY & MARIE: CHRISTMAS AT THE NATIONAL
Closes December 7, 2014
The National Theatre
1321 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Tickets: $53 – $108
Tuesday thru Sunday
Details and Tickets
And when the show is over, they have their own separate lives—she has her family (7 children), he has his (five sons)—and they don’t really hang out with each other much off the stage.
During one of his hiatuses from the show, Donny recorded Soundtrack of My Life, a new album to celebrate his 50th year in show business, which will be released on Jan. 13, 2015. The album is his 60th release all-time.
“It’s very exciting. Someone told me it was 60 and I said, that’s not possible so I went to my discography and started counting,” he says. “You don’t count the bootlegs or foreign releases, and sure enough, this is 60.”
Soundtrack Of My Life is a musical summary of Donny’s extraordinary life so far, tracing both the high and low points of both his professional and personal life – from becoming a child star to achieving multiple No.1s, selling over 100 million records, and becoming a worldwide heartthrob.
“The criteria was every song had to have a significant story,” he says. “For example, ‘Ben’ was written for me originally, but I was so busy on the road that Michael Jackson sang it. We used to talk about that all the time, I really miss that guy.”
Other significant tracks include Peter Gabriel’s “Don’t Give Up,” a poignant song Donny’s wife would play him for encouragement; Elton John’s “Your Song,” which was playing when Donny realized he would marry his wife (even though she was his brother’s girlfriend at the time!); and “Gift of Love,” written by Bryan Adams and Eliot Kennedy, which was supposed to be given to another legendary singer.
“It was written for Tony Bennett but I heard the demo and I told them I would love to have it, but I couldn’t,” he says. “I had already finished the album and I just wanted to put a demo vocal to it, so I did and sent it to Bryan and Elliott and they said, ‘Donny, you just stole the song from Tony Bennett.’”
That song will be performed at the Christmas show, and several others might make an appearance as well. In conjunction with the album, Donny has also launched his very own app, tempting fans with the stories behind his new record and giving them sneak previews of each track.
And though he admits he would like to someday get back to theater and Broadway (he has two Great White Way shows to his credit and more than 2,000 performances in the touring version of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat), for now he’s concentrating on the Vegas show and the Christmas tour.
“Christmas to me is all about family and that’s what the Osmonds are about,” he says. “I love this time of year. It brings a whole new paradigm and opportunity to sit back and reflect on what the year has done for you—you can plan for the future and look at the past.”