WILKES-BARRE — Her shirt said, simply, “Donny Forever.” And for Christine Morreale, 48, of Plains Township, it seemed as if she’d been waiting almost that long to see her hero, Donny Osmond, in person.
“She’s a little bit obsessed,” her friend Krisiti Katchik, 34, of Wilkes-Barre, noted with a fond smile.
“She’s passionate,” added another friend, Sue Pelak, 54, of Hanover Township.
Katchik and Pelak attended the nearly sold-out Donny & Marie concert Thursday evening at the F.M. Kirby Center mostly to support their pal. But for Morreale, it was a bucket-list dream fulfilled.
“He was my first crush,” she said with a nostalgic laugh before the show. “He got married when I was 10 years old and I was very upset. He was supposed to marry me.”
Morreale, who eventually forgave Osmond, tried to catch his show several years ago in Las Vegas and then in Atlantic City, but the first performance was sold out and Osmond got sick before the second show and canceled his appearance.
It was one dashed hope after another.
When it took 45 minutes for her call to the Kirby Center box office to go through, Morreale thought she would miss this chance to see Osmond, too.
She was amazed when a staffer took the call, listened to her story and told her, “I can’t get you front row center, but I can get you front row left.”
“I’ll take it!” Morreale said, explaining her attitude had been “I don’t care if I’m on the ceiling. I just want to see him.”
While Morreale eagerly awaited her first in-the-same-room Osmond experience, other fans in the crowd said they make a regular habit of seeing Donny, who long ago described himself as “a little bit rock and roll” and his sister, Marie, who sang about being “a little bit country.”
“I just saw them Tuesday in Reading,” said Doug Minier, 55, of Williamsport, who considers himself “not a groupie,” but a “follower.”
“I love them both,” said Robin Lombardo, who drove two hours from Hackettstown, N.J., for the show, though she had already seen the singers “150 to 200 times.”
As a 12-year-old in 1971, Lombardo said she decorated her bedroom with about 40 Osmond posters.
“They were on the ceiling, on three different walls and in the closet,” she said. “They were everywhere.”
For other Osmond fans, devotion started when they were even younger than 10 or 12.
Cousins Pamela Turchin, of Shavertown, and Justine Soprano, of Hanover Township, said they had attended a concert in Allentown as “very little kids.”
“I remember her holding onto her seat and screaming,” Soprano said.
“I was so excited,” Turchin recalled.
“I remember Donny coming out wearing a purple cape with a big letter ‘D’ in lights,” said Soprano.
“He always used to wear purple socks,” Turchin added. “I want him to come out wearing something purple tonight.”
When the brother/sister duo appeared Thursday evening, Donny sported a sequin-studded black jacket and Marie similarly shimmered in a white dress with fringes and high-heeled, sequined boots. Their clothes weren’t purple, but several shafts of purple lighting did seem to grace the stage as the pair entered singing “It Takes Two.”
“Tonight’s Gonna Be A Good Night,” “Love Shack” and “You’ve Got to Fight for Your Right to Party” were part of the first medley, and the popular duo easily connected with the crowd, leaving the stage so that Donny could race up and down the aisles, brushing his palm against the outstretched hands of many fans. Marie, meanwhile, danced with a man from the audience, twirling under his arm.