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Donny & Marie Christmas In Detroit: That's How
It's Done

The Oakland Press
by Beth Robinson
November 30, 2011

Britney Spears may want to take notes: How does one appear onstage in a skin-tight red sequined sheath and 16-inch platform pumps singing “Santa, please take me off of your naughty list” to four twenty-something bumping and grinding Santa-suited dancer studs, and still make it look like family entertainment?

Apparently, you must be Marie Osmond. Though, arguably, anybody with her talent, her enduring and smashing looks, and an entire lifetime as an entertainer could probably pull it off, and like her, look like a class act all the way.

After all, Donny busts a move to “Yo Yo” with the same four hunky youngsters, keeping time with film of a much younger Donny doing the same moves with his brothers — way back when one had to cross the room to turn on the Donny & Marie Show — and he looks just great, too.

It is such a pleasure to see someone  doing something so well. And they do everything well.

What Donny & Marie Osmond are especially good at is being Donny & Marie. They know who they are. They know who their audience is. And they connect. And it’s magic.

It felt like opening night on Tuesday — which, in fairness, it was. Vocal mike levels did not make it to where they belonged till about mid-show, and about halfway through Donny walked out into a dark space, expecting to be followed by a spotlight, and quipped, “Welcome to opening night.”

But really, who cares? Whatever the moment brings, they make it work; they make it entertain.

They do the cutesy sibling thing. They come out into the house and hug and shake hands and take pictures. She sings “Paper Roses.” Donny does “Puppy Love.” There are the age jokes and the Nutrasystem jokes and Dancing with the Stars jokes.

There’s a spirited “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” tribute to the troops. An Osmond Christmas montage. And Broadway favorites: Donny reprises “Close Every Door to Me” from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, while Marie will “Whistle a Happy Tune” in a gold lamé hoop skirt.

There are terrific dancers — even if the girls are a bit frumped down to avoid upstaging any stars — great musicians, a giant Christmas tree, fake snow and a blur of sequined sheaths and dizzying shoes. Donny pointed to Marie’s umpteenth set of fantastic footwear and joked, “That’s where our budget went.”

Well, yeah, isn’t that why the folks are buying tickets? It’s a show.

It’s kitschy. It’s endlessly self-referential. It’s a blast for fans, but the showmanship that made Donny & Marie Osmond stars has only seasoned with age. This is a show for anyone who likes to be entertained. And the gravitas that both have earned by virtue of age and life experience make the touching moments more truthfully touching.

They are two grown-ups now, who until recently had not performed together for many years. Mostly, despite the name of the show, they do separate performances. But when they get together and sing “Let There be Peace on Earth,” she can sing “let me walk with my brother in perfect harmony” and it just sounds right. It just feels right.

You want to love them. And they make it really easy — and really, really fun.



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