How’s this for a headline for Donny and Marie: Christmas at the National? “Singing siblings prove mythical fountain of youth is real?”
Sure, that opening might be more at home in a supermarket tabloid, but it’s the truth. Donny and Marie Osmond, the all grown up boy and girl next door performers, have either found the elusive fountain or, more incredibly, may have found a way to keep time at bay.
Donny, nearly 60, and kid sis Marie, rolled into our lives ages ago as the youngest members of the massive, clean-cut guest stars on the old” Andy Williams Show.” Gosh, they were cute as tykes! Following their older siblings into show business, before we knew it little Donny – toothy and blessed with a sweet voice – became the lead singer for the Osmond act. His big heartthrob hit in the early 70s, “Puppy Love,” wooed a generation of swoony girls and kept Donny in the pages of “Tiger Beat” through his puberty.
On Donny’s heels, Marie made a splash with a country ballad, “Paper Roses,” that topped the charts, and by 1976, savvy producers saw the potential in pairing the youthful and most photogenic siblings in the Osmond clan for one of TV’s last variety shows. “Donny and Marie” entered the living rooms of America for four seasons, providing the wholesome, sunny style of entertainment the family brand had been known for since their older brothers were singing barbershop harmony.
Donny and Marie’s good looks, sibling banter and energetic versatility as performers endeared them to a wide range of viewers, including teenagers. Marie was a “little bit country” and Donny was a “little bit rock and roll,” as they told us in one of their signature duets. Annually, they would stage a Christmas special – like their old pal Andy Williams – and include their large Mormon family as guests.
The cancellation of “Donny and Marie” lead the brother and sister to other career peaks and valleys, which we need not chronicle in detail. Suffice it to say, we have continued to watch Donny and Marie Osmond take on Broadway and national tours, game shows and talk shows, and even hawk goods on TV shopping networks. But they also have never stopped performing as solo artists to adoring fans. And in recent years they have come back together for a very successful show at the Flamingo in Las Vegas. One of the top shows on the Vegas strip, they also began to offer a holiday show, modeled once again on the types of live shows Andy Williams would do at Christmas time when he opened his theatre in Branson, Missouri. Audiences clamored for the Christmas-themed shows and Donny and Marie hit the road with them a few years ago, which brings us to their week long run at DC’s National Theatre.
To quote no one in particular: They still got it. And how.
The banter, the sunny style, the prodigious showmanship – all the qualities that propelled them to stardom in their teen years – are still going strong. With the stage presence and aplomb that only comes from seasoned performers and thousands of live performances, Donny and Marie Osmond had the audience in the palm of their hands for two solid hours. Accompanied by a first class band and attractive back-up dancers, the brother-sister duo effortlessly took the stage and played to every strength they possess – comedy, singing, dancing, and audience interaction. Not many performers can go from one singing style to another (country to opera, for example) without something going amiss. Not so, here. No wonder their Las Vegas show is a top-seller.
Opening their show with “We Need A Little Christmas,” Donny and Marie established they still do the sibling rivalry shtick very well, poking fun at each other and setting up a running joke about what presents they got for each other. Quips about Nutrisystem (she’s a spokesperson) and “Dancing with the Stars” (both have been contestants: he won, she did not) were peppered among the crazy variety of musical numbers and video montages.
Clearly in touch with their fans, Marie referenced her Twitter followers and even gave audience members a chance to get front row center seats if they Tweeted before the show. Donny gave a lucky fan a new CD, and they both worked the crowd numerous times, shaking hands, getting hugs, or – in Marie’s case – drawing kissy lips on a number of bald men in the audience. I can tell you first-hand how fit and trim Donny is, by the way, since he climbed across my lap twice to make fans happy. Up close, Donny looks – I have to say it – amazing. Marie walked by me a couple of times and she looks pretty good too, especially in an array of flattering dresses and gowns.
Onstage, they did not disappoint their rabid fans or casual admirers. I consider myself the latter, so if it seems like I am gushing a bit, it’s because I think they deserve the praise. Everything from their oldies but goodies (“Puppy Love,” “Paper Roses,” and “Little Bit Country/Rock and Roll”), songs from their Broadway appearances (The Sound of Music and The King and I for Marie; Little Johnny Jones, Beauty and the Beast, and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat for Donny), and cover songs from all genres of music were expertly delivered. Their voices are still able to blend in delicious harmony even as they each excel as solo artists.
And lest we not forget the Christmas songs and seasonal favorites, the Osmond duo included “All I Want for Christmas is You,” a 60’s Christmas homage to Motown and the Beach Boys, “Let it Snow,” and the great Kay Thompson arrangement of “Jingle Bells.”
DONNY & MARIE: CHRISTMAS AT THE NATIONAL
Closes December 7, 2014
The National Theatre
1321 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
2 hours, 15 minutes with 1 intermission
Tickets: $53 – $108
Tuesday thru Sunday
Details and Tickets
When Donny slowed things down, he introduced a personal song he created as a tribute to his late parents, who raised all nine Osmond children and were also pivotal in their careers. “Whenever You’re in Trouble” was a lovely song and a fitting musical homage to the Osmond patriarchs.
There is much more to the show than I have highlighted here, but for a bang to your entertainment buck and for a fitting time during the holidays to sit back and be wowed by two gifted performers, look no further than Donny and Marie at the National Theatre. They have brought a little bit of Las Vegas, a dash of nostalgia, a huge dose of Christmas cheer, and a whole lot of talent to town.
DONNY & MARIE: CHRISTMAS AT THE NATIONAL
Closes Dec 7
Nelson Pressley . Washington Post A standing ovation came at an unexpected moment Tuesday night as Donny and Marie Osmond began their week-long stand at the National Theatre.
Versatility is the watchword in this glitzy and glamorous Las Vegas-style show. . DCMetroTheaterArts
Jennifer Perry . BroadwayWorld a fun evening out that the whole family could enjoy.
Elliot Lanes . MDTheatreGuide puts us back to a simpler time in America when it was all about family entertainment.