Sunday, December 30, 2012

Review of Donny & Marie Christmas in Los Angeles at the Pantages Theatre

Howdy!

When I was putting together our season ticket package for the Pantages Theatre this year, I snickered a little to myself when I saw that Donny and Marie were on the list, but went ahead and checked the box for their show anyway. On the surface of things, it seems like a hokey show, but they are legendary entertainers, and I have never had the opportunity to see them live before. Plus, I love Christmas music!

And it turns out that going to see them was a great choice, as their show was exceedingly amusing (in a good way). For starters, the Pantages is always a great place to see a show. Parking is easy (easy for Hollywood, anyway), and it is a beautifully restored Art Deco theatre. The theatre is laid out well, and there are really not any bad seats in the house. This show drew scads of old people, so getting around was maddeningly slow, but I guess that was ok for the majority of the people that were there. This probably accounts for the two extra speaker arrays they installed for this show, too.

The doors did not open until a few minutes before showtime, so it was hard to get all of those slow-moving old folks seated, making the curtain rise about fifteen minutes late. But from there they got into the groove and did not miss a cue for the rest of the event. Overall, this show appears to be their regular act with a generous dose of Christmas shtick thrown in for the season.

The stage was set up with movable staircases that were re-arranged throughout the show. An enormous Christmas tree and some poinsettia plants were included as a concession to the holidays. A video screen across the back of the stage played a combination of vintage Osmond footage and close-ups of Donny and Marie as they were performing.

They hired a first-rate band for this tour, with keyboards, guitar, bass, drums, percussion and a kick-butt horn section. Extra kudos go out to the uncredited sax player that did the marvelous solo interlude with two of the dancers between set changes. The band was well-miked, but occasionally overwhelmed the singers, which is an unpardonable sin on the part of whoever was running the mixing board. They should remember whose names are on the marquee…

There were also eight dancers for this production (four male and four female), and they were very capable and were graced with slick choreography throughout. They had plenty of costume changes, though they did not have nearly as many outfits or shoes as Marie.

So, everything was set up for this to be a stellar production, and Donny and Marie also did their part to make it happen. They are epic performers, having done countless Broadway and stage shows over the past 40 years. Marie is still the better singer, and her voice seems to have even more range and strength than when she was younger. She is a good dancer, having reached the finals of Dancing with the Stars a few years back. Donny’s voice is still good, and he is the better dancer of the two, which he reminded Marie of many times during the show. He went home with the DTWS trophy, you know.

Donny and Marie both have an incredible stage presence, and they bantered and joked with each other quite a bit. There were a lot of their old favorites thrown in, with lots of neat old footage on the video screen. They even did a “Little Bit Country/Little Bit Rock and Roll” segment for their die-hard fans. And the fans must have been pleased that they came down into the audience a few times, and even brought a couple of fans up on stage. It was a hoot!

All in all it was a fabulous show, and it was well worth the money and the trouble of heading up to Hollywood. Donny and Marie will be doing this show in Salt Lake City for a few weeks, and then are heading over to London at the end of January. When they make it around to your town, whatever show they are doing, I heartily recommend that you go check them out.

Mahalo!

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