Donny and Marie Osmond bring Vegas Razzmatazz To Toronto
Globe And Mail
by Paula Citron
July 7, 2011
Donny and Marie Live is not just two people on stage. It’s armies marching. The Osmond siblings are surrounded by eight dancers, six musicians and a slew of technicians. Livecams post their images on overhead screens, while archival photography and video projections present clips from their almost 50 years in show business. In short, razzmatazz Las Vegas has come to Toronto.
The siblings have to be the hardest working entertainers on the planet. They dance, they sing, they tell stories and they never let up. Their show has all the necessary elements for good theatre – talent, laughter, tears, and yes, even God.
It would be easy for a cynical turn of mind to make fun of Donny and Marie. But you have to judge a show by what it delivers, and their adoring fans got two hours of flat-out bang for their bucks.
Donny was born in 1957 and Marie in 1959, which places them clearly in middle age. They were asked to do a six-week show at the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas, a sort of Remember Donny and Marie, but no one was more surprised than the siblings themselves that it became a smash hit, running four years.
Donny and Marie Live is that 90-minute Las Vegas revue extended to two hours with an intermission. The duo starts off performing together, then Marie does her set. Donny’s solo performance is a big chunk of the second half, with the two coming together at the end.
Marie loves sparkles and her parade of costumes, designed by Kirstin Gallo and Rachael Blosil, are a glittering affair. She also has different boots or stiletto heels for each outfit. Donny doesn’t change as much, but he’s still a dandy. Let’s just say they both look fabulous.
Marie has the most variety in terms of style. Her songs cover the gamut from country, to adult contemporary, Broadway and soft opera. In fact, her rendition of Pie Jesu from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Requiem displays a surprisingly skillful high soprano.
Donny’s set is more about his bubblegum hits, rock ’n’ roll and songs from the musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. One particularly clever sequence has a clip of Donny and four of his brothers performing their hit Yo-Yo from 1972, while the current Donny and four dancers sing and execute the boy-group choreography live. Donny can still cut the mustard.
The heart of the show is the interaction with the audience. The two are quick with funny one-liners, their running commentary seems fresh and sincere and their self-deprecation has its charms. It’s clear they share a great reverence for their fans.
One of my favourite interchanges is about Marie’s black lamé opening outfit. She explains that it is a Bob Mackie 1977 original from their Donny and Marie television show that she had to pour herself into, to which Donny quips, “And we’re still paying for it.”
But I also reacted to the poignant moments, when Marie talked about the loss of her teenage son who committed suicide, or Donny’s moving story about his son’s homesickness while on a Mormon missionary assignment, which prompted him to write the song Whenever You’re in Trouble.
And now for my disclosure. Donny and Marie were never part of my entertainment world, but I appreciate talent and, more to the point, artists who put the audience first. Donny and Marie are a class act.
Donny and Marie Live
- Starring Donny and Marie Osmond
- Directed by Richard Jay-Alexander
- At the Four Seasons Centre in Toronto until July 17