In ancient Egypt, Cleopatra VII with her brothers Ptolemy XIII and Ptolemy XIV ruled as co-Pharoahs. They were the glitterati among Caesars, golden lions, graceful palms, stately palazzos – and the envy of everyone in the royal kingdom from the very north, right down to Luxor. Millennia ago, their words and deeds were carefully preserved so they would always be remembered for their magnificence. There is a new King and Queen of the desert, removed by time and space from the ancient pyramids, and their names are Donny and Marie Osmond.
The new desert is the entertainment kingdom of the world: Las Vegas, and here, the faces of Donny and Marie are projected onto large buildings, modern chariots, and papyri of many colors. I attended their sensational extravaganza at the Flamingo, whose logo is a more colorful version of the ancient Egyptian ibis – just a hop, skip and a jump from the Colosseum.
Donny is known best by younger folks as the star of Baron Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat. Donny is the epitome of the eternally-adored Joseph. The Hebrew word Joseph comes from the verb yasap, meaning to give an encore, or “praise some and then praise some more” (Psalm 71:14), which aptly describes the ceaselessly sensational siblings. Donny appeared on stage no longer as the scantily-clad son of Jacob, sold into slavery by his older brothers, but as a polished, handsome, noble gentleman wearing meticulously tailored couture. Marie could still fit into her stunning Bob Mackie dress from her teenage wardrobe.
The experience was surrealistic; it was as if time stood still for the venerated brother and sister: they still look and sound the way they did decades ago, but I had aged in the meanwhile. Imagine losing a puppy when you are a child, then finding it 30 years later, and the puppy had not aged, but you had. This is what it felt like when the duo walked on stage. Donny crooned his eternally beloved “Puppy Love” ballad and repertoire from yesteryears; Marie gracefully showcased her operatic voice, sounding like an angel come down from the heavens.
A funny thing happened on the way to his forum – Donny danced across the top of the gold-circle tables while singing – high-fiving everybody. Both stars stirred the audience to excitement with their effervescent energy and sparkling personalities. The two engaged in a bit of staged sibling rivalry, drawing on their separate triumphs on “Dancing With The Stars.” Technically, Donny won, but Marie was the real winner because she got all the attention and outpouring of love.
Donny and Marie sang together on stage for the first time in 1973 at Caesars Palace. Almost four decades later, their show is the royal flush of the desert. Their hits are so numerous they devised ingenuous mash-ups to cover more territory in the allotted time: imagine “Make The World Go Away” overlain by “I’m leaving it all up to you.” Donny has not lost one iota of his star presence, and opened the second half of the show ablaze in spectacle.
Marie spoke briefly about getting married this year. Her new wedding was actually a re-nup to her first husband, but I’m not going to mention his name – he is my rival – the one who stole her from me long ago and left me in abject agony and dramatic grief of Shakespearian proportion. When I was a kid, I used to watch Donny and Marie on TV every week, and I had this unequivocable belief that I was in love with her. I had the same crush on Judy Garland and Barbra Streisand, and I loved their show tunes, by the way. Call me a cock-eyed optimist, but as a child I dreamed of marrying Barbara Eden; at our wedding we would dress in matching colorful silks and shiny metallic lamé, then live happily ever after in a fabulously ornate bottle.
My adoration for the virgin Marie lasted even after I discovered my stereotypical behavior was merely a rite of passage to becoming a certified light-loafer shoe model. But every so often, I still have wistful memories of her, acknowledging her as my first love, and wonder how many Marie Osmond china dolls I could have had – had I married her.
Donny and Marie perform in Las Vegas at The Flamingo in an open-ended run. For ticket information, call (702) 733-3333; toll free: 800-221-7299; or visit http://www.flamingolasvegas.com/casinos/flamingo-las-vegas/casino-entertainment/donnie-and-marie-detail.html
This article is second in a series about “Sun-City Vegas.” To contact the author, kindly visit www.facebook.com/teddybears .