Las Vegas with Donny and Marie

We loved our evening at the Flamingo in Las Vegas with Donny and Marie. Their show, “Forever Fabulous,” has rightly deserved the many awards it has received. The polish, the talent, the energy, yes, all of the necessary parts were there. But there was something about the show that raised it above the norm for excellent.

Maybe part of it was the slightly self-deprecating humor in which Donnie lays flat on his back panting after doing choreography that barely raised his pulse when he was fifteen. Another time, Marie finishes dancing in six-inch heels and collapses in front of her favorite fan (mechanical) with a request that the available derrick (dancer) raise her to standing.

When flashbacks on a public life become maudlin

Perhaps it was their ability to pull off flashbacks on their very public life with gentle nostalgia; Sometimes flashbacks on the life of entertainers who’ve been in the business a long time are maudlin and self-serving. I may have been willing to forgive Donny & Marie theirs because of their generosity toward fellow entertainers (especially the often maligned Michael Jackson), and how they invoked lively memories of a specific era.

Maybe it was the surprise that Marie could sing legit! I had seen Donny in his Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream-Coat musical role and loved how his voice had grown up along with the rest of him. They both have great voices — and bodies — for the fifth decade of their lives and used costumes that were both flattering and inventive.

Willing to be vulnerable

I’m an inveterate theatre buff and go to as many concerts and plays as I can in whatever part of the world I’m in, so I’m trying to pinpoint precisely what appealed to me so deeply about the show. I suspect it centres around the willingness of Donny & Marie to be vulnerable.

The vocals and dance numbers were razzle-dazzle, slick and professional, but in-between all that we saw two people with deep connections to each other who were genuinely reaching out to the audience. That is very difficult to pull off. Usually I feel slightly embarrassed for the performers if they seem even a tiny bit too hopeful or needy. But Donny & Marie’s connections with the audience were truly a gift from generous natures.