BY MICHAEL SOMMERS
Former teen idols Donny Osmond and his sister Marie Osmond have remained highly successful multi-tasking entertainers for close to half a century — hard to imagine but true — although their career path seldom takes them to Broadway.
Donny starred in a short-lived revival of "Little Johnny Jones" and later joined "Beauty and the Beast" in the role of Gaston. Marie made her theater debut here a dozen years ago as Anna in "The King and I."
The siblings now team up for "Donny & Marie — A Broadway Christmas," which opened Tuesday at the Marquis Theatre for a yuletide visit certain to thrill their local fans. Spectators' screams for "Puppy Love" do not go unrewarded.
In spite of its title, there's really not much Broadway and surprisingly even less Christmas material in their show, but for sure there's plenty of Donny and Marie.
Backed by 10 good-looking dancers, the Osmonds' agreeably upbeat personalities and indefatigable musical talents shine in a high-energy Las Vegas-style package of favorite songs, flashy choreography, nostalgic video clips and some nice, cozy brother-and sister ribbing, complete with a "Dancing With the Stars" throw-down.
This being Christmas, let's skip making any snide remarks regarding the particular brand of glitzy variety-show entertainment the Osmonds sell so extremely well and winningly.
Whatever, they both appear in excellent form here. He's still got that boyish appeal. She's still got those sweetheart looks and clear, lovely voice. Throwbacks to old-time vaudeville stars who know how to connect personably with their audience, Donny and Marie all but knock themselves out as performers.
Entering with a brief holiday medley, they wave at the crowd, vamp for photos — phone cameras were brandished shamelessly by spectators — and zip enthusiastically through a 100-minute-or-so musical jamboree that sent my Donny and Marie-loving date right into seventh heaven.
Each sibling takes an extended individual turn and then joins their cheerful forces for the remainder of the intermission-free revue slickly staged by director-choreographer Barry Lather with blasts of bright lighting, gaudy costumes and a brassy 9-member band. Live video splashed across three large screens augment the performances by the Osmonds who, for all their great professional aplomb, appear nicely spontaneous — especially whenever they amicably bicker.
What else to tell you? Oh, the co-stars make a few forays into the audience for some lap-sitting and glad-handing bits. During last night's show, while working the aisles in pursuit of a bald-headed man to cuddle, Marie tentatively ran a hand over the closely-cropped pate of New York Times reviewer Charles Isherwood and then moved on, murmuring, "Too much hair." Boy, that Marie sure knows how to make a customer feel good.
"Donny & Marie — A Broadway Christmas" continues through Jan. 2 at the Marquis Theatre, 1535 Broadway, New York. Call (877) 250-2929 or visit www.donnyandmarieonbroadway.com.