Watching Donny and Marie Osmond perform at the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas, one realizes how many times these Ogden natives have reinvented their careers. Donny's bubblegum hits of the '70s. Their TV variety show as teens. Marie's country western hits in the '80s. Broadway musicals. Opera. "Dancing with the Stars."
From film clips of their TV debuts on "The Andy Williams Show" as pre-schoolers, to their latest album, the siblings' 90-minute variety show provides a high-energy smattering of just about everything they've done in their 50-plus-year careers. (Well, maybe except for Donny's turn on "Fear Factor.")
Even Marie's svelte strutting in shimmery dresses reminds you of her Nutrisystem ads.
For older fans, it's a fun romp down memory lane. But the show provides satisfying entertainment for those who weren't around when Marie was singing "Paper Roses" and Donny was the "Puppy Love" bubblegum king.
It's pricey -- $116-$306 per ticket, depending on where you sit in the 750-seat showroom. But the show won the Las Vegas Review Journal's 2013 "Best Overall Show" and "Best Singer" categories in its coveted Best of Las Vegas Awards. After a five-year run, the duo recently renewed their contract through 2014, prompting the Flamingo to rename the venue the Donny and Marie Showroom in their honor.
Known for their Mormon religion, the duo keeps the show pretty tame for a town that capitalizes on cleavage and raunchy routines. At one point, Marie chugs down a bottle of water and then quips, "And you thought Mormons couldn't drink."
For the past several months, Donny Osmond was forced to limit his dance moves due to a torn gluteus medius muscle. During his show in October, he was wheeled around in a sparkly chair during the opening dance sequence, and he kept a shiny cane handy while he's standing and singing.
"It was an old injury from 'Dancing With the Stars,' and I re-injured it, " he explained to the audience, adding that the muscle was torn from the bone. That prompted Marie to quip, "It was a real bummer."
As of press time, Donny was expected to start performing without the cane sometime in November.
The brother and sister each had some solo time to showcase their individual talents. Marie sang her hit, "Paper Roses," which launched her youthful singing career, and some of her county Western hits from the '80s. She switched gears with a hard-rocking mash-up of "Walk This Way" and "These Boots Are Made For Walking," finishing with the signature line, "I'm a little bit country, and I'm a little bit rock and roll."
Afterward, she joked that her high-heeled boots "are made for walking... for about 10 seconds."
She also showed off the range of her voice with a high-soprano opera number, and "Climb Ev'ry Mountain" from her Broadway turn in "The Sound of Music." Then she switched to a deep, gritty edge with "Cabaret," and "And The World Goes 'Round."
As Donny Osmond sang "Puppy Love," film clips showed him singing in a '70s-style white jumpsuit with his older brothers' boy band, The Osmonds. His voice is lower than those teenybopper days, but it's more rich and powerful. He sang The Osmonds' first No. 1 song, "One Bad Apple," and recalled the morning that he and his brothers were listening to Casey Kasem's Sunday morning Top 40. His father insisted they attend church, but they got home in time to hear Kasem announce "One Bad Apple" as the top song. He also spoke about his struggle during the '80s, after his teen idol days had faded. He sang "Soldier of Love," the song that put him back on the charts.
He did a soft ballad he wrote for his parents, "Whenever You're in Trouble," as old photos of the Osmond family flashed on the stage screens. He talked about his 35-year marriage to his wife, Debbie, and his friendship with Michael Jackson, adding, "Never miss a chance to tell those around you how much you love them."
The siblings shared a harmonious medley of their well-known duets -- "I'm Leaving It All Up to You," and "Make The World Go Away," and "Morning Side of the Mountain." Donny noted that "Deep Purple," was his least favorite song, as it sparked the craze where fans sent him purple socks.
The two also showed their flair for comedy while bantering over "Dancing with the Stars." Donny reminded Marie that he actually won, while she only got to the final three. She shot back that "the girls have to dance harder than the guys do."
He said his DWTS trophy is on display in the hotel lobby. "There are guards protecting it so Marie won't steal it."
The duo ended with a powerful "Because I Knew You" from "Wicked."
The only downside of the show is the cramped 750-seat venue. The Flamingo Hotel is the oldest resort on the Strip still in operation, and its showroom is the old-school table-and-booth seating. At one point during the show, Marie asked for a standing ovation for an audience member, but the seating was so tight it was impossible to rise from our chairs.
Fortunately, the big screens around the stage helped us see all the action.
Donny and Marie perform at the Flamingo at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, through Nov. 23. Ticket prices are $116-$306. The duo will embark on a Christmas concert tour around the country, and come back to the Flamingo in January.