Donny and Marie Osmond know exactly what their fans want and how to deliver it to them. In their high-spirited, glitzy (and loud!) 2.5 hour show, Donnie & Marie: Christmas in Chicago, they dance, sing, good-naturedly bicker with each other, and show off those all-American, apple-cheeked smiles at every opportunity. She may be a little bit country and he, rock and roll, but I think it's more accurate to say that she's the diva and he's the charmer -- roles they fully embrace with refreshing self-awareness.
In a parade of glitzy gowns and high, high heels, Marie struts around with aloof charm. However, at one point she drolly admits, "I know most of the ladies are here for Donny and the men are here because the ladies dragged them, but how many actually came to see me?" And of course she gets a big round of applause -- an ego boost before launching into a heartfelt version of "Pie Jesu" in a pool of angelic light. Meanwhile, Donny casually croons while strolling down the aisles of the Oriental Theatre, shaking hands with the ladies and patting the men on the back. And the audience eats. it. up.
The best parts are when they don't take themselves quite so seriously (I'm talking to you, Marie) and just have a good time. I also suspected a *few* times when it *seemed* like they were lip-synching, and they really don't need to do that -- they're consummate singers and performers (in fact, the baby-faced Donny's celebrating 49 years in the business -- can you believe that?). And, surprisingly, for a show called "Christmas in Chicago," the set list is thin on actual Christmas tunes, with more than enough selections from their latest albums. Also, there's not much in the way of tailoring this show, which played Broadway last year, for Chicago -- aside from a very funny surprise appearance by Ronnie Woo Woo ("Do you guys know who this guy is?" says a bewildered Marie during the interactive segment, to which the the press night audience responded by cheering loudly. Ronnie and Marie then performed an impromptu duet together.)
Oh, but when they both turn it on, it's a superfun time. As "Dancing with the Stars" alums (Donny was the champion and Marie came in third place, if you're into such things), it's not surprising that they more than keep up with their energetic back-up dancing crew.
I say if you're a fan of this beloved duo, then you'll more than enjoy your time at the Oriental celebrating the season with them. I know the ladies around me certainly did.
"Donny & Marie: Christmas in Chicago" plays through December 24 at the Oriental Theatre. Tickets here >