Donny And Marie Give Detroit A Christmas Gift
by John Quinn
November 30, 2011
||Holiday gifts are increasingly marked “Made in China.” Fortunate for Detroit, this year we’ve been given an All-American present, “Donny and Marie – Christmas in Detroit.” Like seeing siblings grow year after year in family photographs posed in front of a decorated tree, seeing Donny and Marie Osmond take the stage together feels like a family reunion. The show continues through Sunday at the Fox Theatre, 2211 Woodward Ave., Detroit.
A sign of their enduring popularity lies in the fact that what started out as a six-month run in 2008 at the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas has been extended through 2012. “Donny and Marie – Christmas in Detroit” is largely that show spiced up with some holiday decorations and seasonal numbers. See what the performers had to say about their show during a visit to WWJ Newsradio here.
There are some things old, some things new; some things expected – nay, demanded! – and some nice surprises. When a stage is augmented with three massive video screens, the show can not only contain family photos and home movies, it can resurrect television clips from an era when America invited the Osmond family into our homes as if they were close relatives. A peek at this show will demonstrate the Osmond siblings possess talents that have ripened with age.
For Marie’s turn in the spotlight, she sings one of her earlier numbers, “Paper Roses,” which jumped to #1 on the country charts when she was just 13. Yet her most memorable performance of the night is Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s “Pie Jesu,” a selection from her inspirational album, “I Can Do This,” released this spring. The ethereal tone she brings to this number implies solid gold vocal cords.
A big part of Donny Osmond’s contribution is a self-deprecating review of his teen heart-throb status. No retrospective could be complete without renditions of hits like “Go Away Little Girl” and “Puppy Love,” accompanied by footage of him and his brothers during the teenage years. Yet his performance in some slick choreography demonstrates that this granddad is still a little bit rock ‘n’ roll.
There is a lot of holiday music on our stages this year, and it has, so far, been grand. Here musical director and keyboardist Jerry Williams pulls an unusually warm, full sound from the band, given the limited brass compliment. As a prologue to the show’s big production number, a jive celebration full of sparkle and feathers, Rocco Barbato’s jazzy sax solo hits all the right notes.
‘Tis the season for nostalgia, and the lure of “Donny and Marie – Christmas in Detroit” is no doubt partially nostalgia. Anyone observing the appreciation of the Boomer Boppers who paid top dollar to sit up close and personal can recognize that. Yet this concert is not just a revival of the good times.
Each of these performers, solo and together, is producing original material in literature, music and other entertainment genres. Osmond is more than a family; it’s a respected American brand. In its 50 years, that brand has earned a reputation for quality, reliability and customer satisfaction. It reminds me of another of my favorite brands – Hershey’s Chocolate. Both are sweet and traditional; they’re welcome treats any time of the year – and only a Grinch could call them cloying.