Donny and Marie Love Toronto
July 12, 2011
It hasn’t been all work and no play for Donny and Marie Osmond as they come close to the end of their two-week performance schedule in Toronto.
Marie, the only female in the Osmond brood of nine siblings, viewed Niagara Falls on a day trip with husband Stephen Craig, whom she married for the second time earlier this year. Next on her list is shopping in Yorkville.
Older brother Donny, with whom she partnered on a popular variety show on television from 1975 to 1979, plans to head to the Toronto Islands with his wife of 33 years, Debra, on Friday.
Donny attended the Monday performance of U2 at the Rogers Centre, planning to arrive on foot and incognito with sunglasses when a stretch limo pulled up and a fan offered him a ride.
“I get out of the car (at the concert) and all these people are thinking ‘Bono’s coming’ and this lady comes up to me and says ‘are you the opening act?’” Osmond, 53, recalled with a laugh, while waiting to appear on The Marilyn Denis Show.
On Sunday, the day before, Osmond walked from his downtown hotel to a Mormon church on Ossington Avenue, a walk he was assured would be 45 minutes but took more than an hour.
“I show up, I’m dripping wet. The lady was giving a sermon and I walk in the building just as she said, ‘I was a big fan of Donny Osmond when I was kid.’ I opened the door just as she said that. It was a moment. I was waiting for the trumpets and the harps and everything. Timing is everything,” he said.
Marie Osmond, 51, said the Las Vegas show the two have brought to the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts between July 5 and 17 has given her the first chance ever to perform in a real opera house.
“There are five or six standing ovations every show,” she marvelled.
“The audiences here are hard to beat,” Donny quickly chimed in.
Denis, a longtime radio host and star of The Marilyn Denis Show on CTV, which premiered in January, said she’s been a fan of the singing/dancing brother-sister duo since the 1970s, remembering the days Donny regularly appeared on the cover of teen magazine Tiger Beat as well as their variety show.
“We all grew up with The Donny and Marie Show. There were the costumes but you know what was great was the comedy ... with these great stars like Lucille Ball and good old Ruth Buzzi and Betty White and you saw this other side of them,” Denis said.
“They’re great and having them together is just a bonus. They’re great conversationalists and they’re fun people,” Denis added.
Fans at the show arrived with buttons, crossword puzzles, socks and Barbie doll-type figures of the pair and one, Donny noted, of youngest sibling Jimmy, that is extremely rare.
“They only made about seven of those (dolls),” he said.
Jennifer Baldock, 51, of Toronto said the secret of the pair’s success is how they interact with their fans.
“They’re phenomenal performers and they’re phenomenal to their fans. That’s the key to their longevity … they do a lot for their fans,” Baldock said.
Baldock is heading to Las Vegas next month for a three-day event hosted by Donny. In February, Baldock and her husband are booked for a cruise with both Donny and Marie, during which couples are invited to renew their wedding vows with Donny officiating and Marie acting as matron of honour.
The siblings, who have recently released their first album collaboration in 30 years, display an easy and lighthearted rapport behind the scenes.
While a photographer tries to corral the two for a picture, Donny rummages through a drawer in a dressing table for props. Marie pretends to balk at the photographer’s suggestion that her brother wrap his arm around her.
“That’s incestuous,” she said in mock horror. While Donny acknowledged the “nostalgia factor” plays a role in their ongoing success, audiences still want something “fresh.”
“We’ve got three different careers here, you’ve got Marie, you’ve got Donny and you’ve got Donny and Marie. So there’s a lot of repertoire to pull from to keep it fresh. That’s the nature of show business. You’ve got to keep finding new things, especially nowadays when the attention span is that of a gnat,” he said.