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  • Danieley-edit.jpg

    Jason Danieley and his equally spectacularly talented wife, Marin Mazzie, have made a lot of magic on Broadway -- together, as when they took over the roles of Diana and Dan in Next to Normal, and separately (Jason in Candide, The Full Monty, and Curtains, Marin in Passion, Ragtime, Kiss Me, Kate, et cetera). The Mrs. is now co-starring as Margaret White in the Off-Broadway revisal of Carrie, and though Jason isn't in a show at present, he's keeping himself vocally active.

    Fresh from performing in the New York Philharmonic gala and in a concert for the New York Festival of Song at Weill Recital Hall, he'll very soon appear in two high-profile events at Carnegie Hall: The Collegiate Chorale's April 10 concert presentation of Gilbert & Sullivan's The Mikado, and an April 30 New York Pops tribute to the music of Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens, in which his spouse will also be an honored guest artist. Here's what Jason had to say in our recent phone chat:


    BROADWAYSTARS.COM: Jason, I missed the Philharmonic gala. Tell me about it.

    JASON DANIELEY: It was all Frank Loesser music, with a smattering of people you may have heard of: Bryn Terfel, Ann Hampton Callaway, Victoria Clark, Mary Testa, Marc Kudisch, and myself. I sang "Never Will I Marry" from Greenwillow, "A Slow Boat to China," and "Standin' on the Corner" as part of a quartet. "Never Will I Marry" is a beautiful song that's not done very often. I was speaking to Jo Sullivan Loesser about it, and she said Frank was really looking to go down the road of doing more legit stuff in his later years. That song is almost like an opera aria.

    STARS: Speaking of which: I assume you trained classically, and I was wondering if you considered a career in classical music or opera.

    JASON: Yes. I grew up in St. Louis and started singing with the St. Louis Symphony Chorus when I was 16. I was the youngest member of the chorus ever. While I was doing that, singing a lot of legit music, I really thought about a career in the concert world. I wasn't sure about opera; I hadn't been exposed to it that much. One of my first exposures to the classical world was singing with Robert Shaw, who founded The Collegiate Chorale. He came to St. Louis and pieced together a small chorus for The Messiah one Christmas. It's interesting how things have come full circle, in a way, and I'm now singing with the chorale that he founded.

    STARS: Well, you sang Candide. That's pretty close to opera, wouldn't you say?

    JASON: Absolutely. That and a few other pieces, like Sweeney Todd, really dance on the line between musical theater and opera.

    STARS: Did you ever play Anthony in Sweeney Todd?

    JASON: No, I never did. And, at this point, I think I'll just have to wait for Sweeney!

    STARS: Since you brought up the subject of age: When you did your act with Marin, you used to joke about the fact that she's several years older than you. But I'm thinking maybe you don't do that joke anymore

    JASON: No, I don't do it anymore. I don't think being 40 is that enviable, so the audience wouldn't laugh at all.

    STARS: I have to compliment you and Marin on Next to Normal. I've told everyone I know that she gave one of the most amazing performances I've ever seen in that show.

    JASON: It was great for us to do it together, for so many reasons. It was great to just sit or stand right across from her on stage while she was tackling this mammoth role and doing it so beautifully. I wasn't just getting the stories when she came home from work; I was there to witness it myself.

    STARS: What other shows have you two done together?

    JASON: We did two shows back to back in Los Angeles in 2004: 110 in the Shade at the Pasadena Playhouse, and Brigadoon for the Reprise! series. It was fantastic to do 110 in the Shade. It's a beautiful gem of a show that's often overlooked.

    STARS: I completely agree. I've never understood why it's not one of the most famous musicals ever. Do you think it's partly because the play on which it's based, The Rainmaker, is so popular in its own right?

    JASON: I guess, but the music fits the overall feel of the play so well. There's an element of sentimentality in the score, but it really fits what Lizzie and Starbuck are going through. It was quite an experience for us to do that show back to back with Brigadoon. Two tear-jerkers in a row! In 110 in the Shade, Lizzie and Starbuck almost come together...and then they don't. In Brigadoon, Fiona and Tommy come together...and then they're almost separated by a 100-year curse. "There But For You Go I" is such an incredible song. And then there's the end of the show, where Fiona sings "Dinna y'know Tommy that you're all I'm livin' for?" with tears streaming down her face...

    STARS: I know! And then the mist comes rolling in, and the offstage chorus starts singing "Brigadoon, Brigadoon" very softly, and Fiona says, "Oh, Tommy, 'tis the end of our day!" It must be hard to get through a moment like that.

    JASON: It is. At the same time, it makes it so easy to be in touch with those deep emotions when you're playing opposite the woman you love.

    STARS: Back to the present: Can you tell me what you'll be singing in the New York Pops concert?

    JASON: I'll be doing "The Streets of Dublin" from A Man of No Importance. I love the music of Flaherty and Ahrens, and they're such great people.

    STARS: Do you feel like you're spoiled in that you so often sing with large orchestras in world-class halls?

    JASON: I count my blessings every time I get to do it. On Broadway, the orchestra size keeps getting whittled down little by little, and it's such a shame. I think, of all the elements of a musical, the music is most important.

    STARS: Well, thanks so much for talking. I hope to attend both of your upcoming gigs. I'm particularly interested in The Mikado because I've never actually seen it. And you're playing...?

    JASON: Nanki-Poo. That's N-A-N-K-I, and I think the second part is spelled P-O-O.

    STARS: Yes, I'm afraid it is!

    Published on Monday, April 2, 2012

    Michael Portantiere has more than 30 years' experience as an editor and writer for TheaterMania.com, InTHEATER magazine, and BACK STAGE. He has interviewed theater notables for NPR.org, PLAYBILL, STAGEBILL, and OPERA NEWS, and has written notes for several cast albums. Michael is co-author of FORBIDDEN BROADWAY: BEHIND THE MYLAR CURTAIN, published in 2008 by Hal Leonard/Applause. Additionally, he is a professional photographer whose pictures have been published by THE NEW YORK TIMES, the DAILY NEWS, and several major websites. (Visit www.followspotphoto.com for more information.) He can be reached at [email protected]

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