With the exception of a couple scattered carols and a show-ending candy-cane toss, there’s nothing particularly Christmassy about Donny & Marie — A Broadway Christmas (now playing through Jan. 2 at Broadway’s Marquis Theatre). In fact, aside from its Times Square location and a few Andrew Lloyd Webber tunes, there’s nothing very Broadway about the Osmonds’ insanely entertaining two-hour song-and-dance spectacular, either. It’s Vegas, baby — from the hydraulic lifts on which the siblings make their entrance to the massive TV screens that provide up-waaay-close, personal looks at the stars’ now-fiftysomething faces. And just wait till Donny fires up the wind machines.
It’s a lot like a live Donny & Marie variety show — and that, if you’re a fan, is a beautiful thing. Donny sings ”Go Away Little Girl” and ”Puppy Love” — accompanied, of course, by video clips showing him in his shaggy-haired teen-idol prime — and all the middle-aged women in the audience turn into squealing little girls. (Don’t be surprised if someone hurls a bra at him one of these nights.) Marie performs her youthful hit ”Paper Roses” swathed in a voluminous skirt of organza roses. (Plus a sequined top. Marie loves her sequins. She’s also rocking some incredible chrome — yes, chrome! — fingernails.)
Donny bounds out in a leather jacket and tight jeans no grandpa should wear for his hit ”Soldier of Love,” then takes requests for Stevie Wonder songs. Marie barrels through a Broadway medley — were she a couple decades younger, her ”Don’t Rain on My Parade” would have Fanny Brice wannabe Lea Michele worried — then brings an unsuspecting audience member on stage to duet on ”Blue Christmas.” They dance — as you would expect from Dancing With the Stars‘ season 9 winner Donny and season 5 finalist Marie. As you may have heard, Marie sings opera. (But don’t worry, it’s Andrew Lloyd Webber opera — ”Pie Jesu” from Requiem — and it’s quite respectable.) And, perched on stools, they duet on their old chestnuts like ”Deep Purple,” ”I’m Leaving It (All) Up to You,” and ”Morning Side of the Mountain.” They may have aged, but their voices are as strong as ever. And you just can’t fake that kind of chemistry.
There are a few misfires: Donny’s version of the heavy metal ”Crazy Horse” — apparently a smash for the Osmond brothers in France (who knew?) — gets dragged out for what feels like days. And do they really need backup dancers? We’re there to see Donny and Marie sing and banter and belt out their hits. We already have dry ice, video screens, talk-show clips, vintage photos, and an audience sing-along (brush up on your lyrics to ”Any Dream Will Do”!). We don’t really need anything more than the girl who’s a little bit country and the boy who’s a little bit rock & roll. A?
(Tickets: Ticketmaster.com or 877-250-2929)