Celebrating Christmas With Marie 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?
Marie Osmond: It’s always a lot of work. We did one in New York last year but this one is more of a themed Christmas show. It will have some of the hits that people want to hear, a lot of holiday music and lots of Osmond memories. We’re bringing all our singers, dancers and a bunch of video that has never been seen [laughing] because it’s from way back in the 1800s when we started.
I grew up working all of those old holiday TV specials, from Andy Williams’ to Perry Como’s. It was just that wonderful era of sitting in the living room with the whole family and having all these holiday songs and skits come through the TV set. Nobody’s doing this anymore. So our show is the tradition that we will not let die.
Q. Do you have a favorite holiday song?
Marie: It’s my new Christmas single [laughs], “Naughty Christmas List.” You can download it in iTunes. It’s kind of country, natch, with trumpets and steel guitars. But there are so many good ones. I guess “White Christmas” has always been a favorite.
Q. What was the best and worst Christmas gift you ever got?
Marie: The worst one was a Chia Head. The best? I love handmade gifts that my kids make. And my Mom started me on collecting my Christmas china from Harrod’s in London so I have those pieces.
Q. What’s the best gift Donny ever gave you?
Marie: We try not to exchange gifts other than maybe birthday gifts. But his birthday is Dec. 9 and one year I gave him a birthday/Christmas gift — a beautiful Louis Vuitton briefcase. A week later someone stole it out of his dressing room along with his microphones and all his shoes. [Laughing] What was that about?
Q. He said he gave you the best Christmas gift ever last year.
Marie: [Laughing] Oh my God, that’s true! Lucille Ball once said, “Honey if you want to last in this business, know where your key light is.” And she was right. I’m always asking the key light to be adjusted or changed, so Donny bought me my own and I have it on all our TV interviews or photo shoots.
Q.What’s the best and worst thing about performing with
Marie: It’s nice to know that there’s always someone there to catch you, to literally have your back. You can change the show according to what the audience is responding to and it’s just automatic between the two of us. We’ve been doing this for so long that we can look at each other and just go OK. The worst? [Laughing] Too many years of performing together. Donny and I recorded together starting when I was barely 14.
Q.What’s it like to have one of the hottest shows on the
Las Vegas strip?
Marie: It’s just so very flattering. Initially we signed up for six weeks and now we’re going on three years. We’re contracted till 2012 or the end of the world. What the heck! It’s the last, old-time theater [at the Flamingo Hotel] in Vegas that has that classic showroom setup. It takes a certain type of performer to work that kind of room. But we learned that from working with Sammy Davis Jr. and Frank Sinatra. Plus flamingos live in flocks of 10,000 — [laughing] very much like Osmonds, so we’re very comfortable there.
Q.What made you guys come together to record a duets album after 30 years?
Marie: It was like getting back on a horse. There’s something about recording with siblings. The only other brother-sister recording duo siblings that we knew of growing up were the Carpenters. And Richard didn’t talk very much. Donny should take a lesson from that.
Q.Why haven’t you two released a Christmas duets album?
Marie: Our biggest problem is finding the time. As far as the best Christmas album I think one of the best was the Osmond Family Christmas Album. I’m not sure you can even get it anymore. But it’s a classic.
Q.You both competed on “Dancing with the Stars.” Who’s a better dancer, you or Donny?
Marie: All I know is that I hit my head so hard when I passed out. The girls do all the dancing; the guys just stand there and hold you.
Q.You became a spokesperson for Nutrisystem a few years back and literally transformed yourself. Got any helpful tips for folks now that the holiday season is here and that means a lot of great holiday food and snacks?
Marie: I loved Nutrisystem way before I endorsed it. It teaches you to eat three meals a day and snack healthy. Get your metabolism going. If you want to have a piece of pie, have it, just don’t eat the whole flippin’ pie. Instead of “I’m tired, let me go eat” — now it’s “instead of eating, pull out a book and read, pull out sewing project or knitting. Or go for a walk.”
Q.What’s your favorite holiday treat?
Marie: We love pumpkin pie at home. And I make a mean turkey. I love comfort foods like mashed potatoes and gravy, and homemade ice cream. And my daughter makes a great homemade caramel popcorn so I love that.
Q.You’ve come through Chicago with shows and with your doll collections. What do you love about the city?
Marie: I love the Oriental Theatre. I’m definitely going to be shopping the Mag Mile. My kids will be here toward the end of the show’s run so we’ll be going ice skating. And you gotta have Chicago pizza and Garrett’s popcorn. And Rosie invited us to do her show, so we’ll be doing that. [Laughing] I did ask her if she had to invite Donny.