Celebrating Christmas With Donny Osmond
Chicago Sun Times
by Miriam Di Nunzio
December 1, 2011
Some entertainers need no introduction — especially when they’ve been in show business for more than 40 years. And so it goes for Donny and Marie Osmond. With their megawatt smiles and endearing, self-deprecating humor, the pop singers sit atop one of the most successful American entertainment dynasties. They’ve seemingly done it all — topping the Billboard charts, starring on television, Broadway, and Chicago stages, and headlining in Las Vegas. Now the duo is bringing their new Christmas show spectacular to Chicago for a 3-week engagement. In separate interviews, the siblings talked about Christmas, making music, and working opposite each other all these many years.
Question: What’s it like to create a Christmas stage show?
Donny Osmond: A lot of work. It’s a totally new show even from the one we did last year in New York. We’re moving the entire Vegas show to Chicago, lock, stock and barrel. It looks good on paper when you say let’s do this, let’s do that. Then you go into rehearsal and you’re like, Whoa! But we’re plowing through it. The dancers are going crazy. [Laughing] It’s all about hutzpah, baby! There’s a weird juxtaposition. Using a Yiddish word for a Christmas show.
To me Christmas is all about when I was growing up and being on the “Andy Williams Show” and then “The Donny and Marie Show.” It became a tradition to do those kinds of shows. So we want to keep that tradition alive. We’re taking a chance with the show this year, trying something a little unique. It’s easy to throw darts at Donny and Marie and say, “We better bring our insulin to their Christmas show.” But I think people are going to be very surprised by this show. We start out with anything but the Christmas spirit because the world is in such pain and turmoil. We can’t do anything about it except make people escape it for two hours. So we want to take people on this journey away from the real world even if it’s just for a little while.
Q.Do you have a favorite Christmas song?
Donny : I was going to say “It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” that Andy Williams sang, but I have new favorite. It’s my new song, written by Gary Baker, called “If Everyday Could Be Christmas” (download it for free at donny.com). I will sing it in the show.
Q.Why haven’t you and Marie done a Christmas duets album?
Donny : Everyone loves “The Osmond Family Christmas” album so we kinda painted ourselves in to a corner. The challenge that Marie an I have is that we’re brother and sister. And when you sing a lot of these Christmas songs it’s about cuddling in front of the fireplace. And we don’t want to do that. Even in the duets album we released this year, it was hard to find a song that brothers and sisters can record together. The Carpenters did it. Karen sang and her brother was in the background. [Laughing] Marie would love that. Of course I always remind Marie that at least Karen could sing.
Q. So you guys really get along quite well?
Donny: [Laughing] Blood is thicker than water. We’re siblings. Donny and Marie exist because it’s organic — it’s just there.
Q. What’s the best and worst thing about performing together?
Donny: We have to treat each other with respect. We’re brother and sister but we’re two professional entertainers. We just always have each other’s backs.
Q.You’re a grandfather now. Do the kids get who grandpa is?
Donny: I love being called Bapa, not grandpa. They’re 6, 3 and almost 2, so they’re at this great age. They have no idea who Donny and Marie are. They come down to Vegas to watch Bapa do “Soldier of Love” and see all the smoke and lights, but when they come home to visit me they’re just jumping all over me. They couldn’t care less about all the show stuff.
Q.What’ the best and worst Christmas gift you ever got?
Donny: [Laughing] My Blackberry. It changed my life. It’s hermetically sealed onto my body. I run my life from my Blackberry. Then last Christmas I bought myself a Mac Air book. And worst was fruitcake. [Laughing] How did fruitcake become a tradition at Christmas? It’s the worst thing ever invented. I remember getting that from my grandma. I feel bad saying that but after she left I was just like, yuck.
Q.What’s the best gift you ever gave Marie?
Donny: We really don’t exchange gifts. But I just gave her a belated birthday/Christmas present. She drives me crazy every time we have to do TV or a photo session; she has to stop and rearrange the lighting and make sure her key light is just right, then we can continue. So I bought her her own key light. She eats and sleeps and breathes with this key light. [Laughing] It’s her vanity light. It was about $1,000 but it was sooooo worth it. Trust me.
Q.What did you two want to say with the duets album you released earlier this year?
Donny: When you’re talking that this is my 59th album and I’m working on my 60th, I guess I wanted to make sure it was an evolutionary process. Yu look at the progression since 1969 when I started recording and where I am today musically and I’m kinda impressed. And I’m not trying to sound egotistical, but the growth is there. I’m still out there singing. I’m still a very lucky guy. And I think Donny and Marie are still relevant.
Q.You both competed on “Dancing with the Stars.” Who’s a better dancer, you or Marie?
Donny: [Laughing] Who’s got the trophy, baby! My favorite dance was the Argentine tango. My wife didn’t like it at all. [Laughing] She called it the “you can sleep on the couch dance.” But it was the most fun to learn and execute. The quickstep you can take that and leave it. If you’re a skipping statue you can do that dance. There’s no movement on top and it’s very exhausting.
Q.What’s you favorite holiday treat?
Donny: We have this tradition, it’s my wife’s cinnamon rolls and hot chocolate on Christmas morning. It’s one of those things that are all about family and trying to remember what it was like to be a child. Christmas is all about being with family.
Q.Chicago became your second home thanks to “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.” What do you like the most about Chicago?
Donny: I gotta get some Frango mints at Marshall Field’s, wait hat’s now Macy’s. I have to go down to the food court there. I have to go up to Wilmette and see the house we rented (during his “Joseph” run).