Friday, December 14, 2012

Donny & Marie Osmond Christmas show review: Hollywood

photo courtesy BroadwayLA

A version of my review originally appeared at 

After 50 years in showbiz, Donny Osmond can still send ladies’ hearts a flutter like few others.
That fact was clear during the West Coast premiere of “Donny & Marie: Christmas in Los Angeles,” currently running through Dec. 23 at the Pantages Theatre.
(A previous version went to Broadway in 2010, as well as Detroit, Chicago and Toronto the following year.)   
Donny - still debonair at 55 - thrilled longtime local fan Pearl by asking her to come onstage. The Orange resident, seated in the front row, received a flower embedded with a special camera lens documenting that moment and an autograph.  
Marie is no slouch in the excitability department, either. The sexy singer, 53, invited a happy, yet nervous male audience member to be her sing and dance partner. Their off-kilter duet on “Blue Christmas” was hilarious. Later, Marie ventured into the crowd and planted big red lipstick kisses on various men’s heads.  
The Osmond siblings rarely seem to be away from the spotlight for long.
He hosts a radio show, guests on Susan Boyle’s new album "Standing Ovation" and is working on a new studio effort (reportedly with Todd Rundgren) due next year. 
She can be seen weekday mornings on Marie!, a new Hallmark Channel talk show. 
Tuesday night in Hollywood, the spectacular two-hour show featured snippets or entire portions of nearly 50 songs that spanned the dynamic duo’s entire career - right up to the title track from their eponymous 2011 country/pop album. Half the selections were holiday themed.
For those who haven’t caught the pair’s ongoing show engagement at The Flamingo Las Vegas, the robust vocals, dazzling costume changes, moving set pieces and dance routines here were the next best thing.
Backed by a sleek nine-piece band, plus eight dancers, Donny & Marie opened with the high energy “We Need a Little Christmas,” popularized by Andy Williams. The show’s pacing was top notch (as you’d expect from TV variety show veterans) and the good-natured banter included plenty of references to Marie’s NutriSystem affiliation and both their stints on “Dancing with the Stars.” I could have done without so many medleys, but that’s a minor quibble.
Several older numbers were accompanied by archival television clips. 
Marie’s “Paper Roses” (she only sang a couple lines), Donny’s “Puppy Love” (there were audible squeals from middle aged women) and The Osmond Family’s “Yo-Yo” (Donny ably recreated an old routine with the male dancers) were two examples.
In the second show segment, his moving version of “Moon River” was a tribute to entertainer Williams, who recently passed away and gave The Osmonds’ career a jump start in the 1960s.
Elsewhere, a major part of the show was devoted to Donny & Marie’s various star turns on Broadway: “The King & I,” “Beauty and the Beast,” "Little Johnny Jones," “The Sound of Music,” “Wicked,” “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.”
Each had their shining moments. Marie’s came with the Requiem Mass' operatic “Pie Jesu”; Donny impressed most with a sizzling, electronic-tinged revamp of his big late ‘80s hit “Solider of Love” and a fun mash-up that incorporated Taio Cruz’s “Dynamite,” Kool & the Gang’s “Celebration,” Psy’s “Gangnam Style” and a melody from the Stones’ “Start Me Up.” One pleasant surprise involved the pair’s duet on a nod to the Brian Setzer Orchestra’s annual holiday extravaganzas. They did “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” with ‘Rock This Town,” “Jump, Jive ‘n’ Wail” and “This Cat’s on a Hot Tin Roof.”
“Christmas in Los Angeles” is highly recommended.   

Remaining shows: 8 p.m. Tuesdays- Fridays, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, 1 p.m. Sundays through Dec. 23, Pantages Theatre, 6233 Hollywood Blvd. $25-$128. Recommended for ages 8 and up; no one under 5 admitted.,, (800) 982-2787.  Donny & Marie also begin an 11-night stand at London’s O2 Arena on Jan. 20.   

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