Tony Danza in Standards and Stories
Tony Danza. Photo by Stephen Sorokoff
Tony Danza in Stories and Standards
35 - East 76 St. NYC
Cast: Tony Danza (Vocals, Ukelele, Tap Dancing), Kenny Ascher (piano), Dave Shoup (Guitar), John Arbo (Bass),
Ed Caccavale (drums). Arrangements by the late John Oddo.
Sept. 17-18 and 20, 21, 2019
You gotta love the guy. He is Mr. Entertainment, a charmer who has done it all, or at least he has tried to. He is currently back at the Cafe Carlyle, ready and willing to revisit his previous sell-out show, Standards and Stories to kick off the Fall 2019 season.
Danza's charisma is guaranteed to entertain. He shares stories, singing the American songbook standards to illustrate his journey from Brooklyn to Hollywood to New York and along the way, you can't help falling for the guy.
He's been a boxer, an actor, a singer, a TV personality. He plays the piano, ukelele, trumpet and tap dances. Maybe everything was not top-notch, but it's all delivered with honesty and heart. And, hey, "That's Life," as the song goes if something does not pan out so well, (like his short-lived Broadway show, Honeymoon in Vegas), Danza's motto seems to be, "I pick myself up and get back in the race."
After years of honing his talents, it is obvious that there is hard work behind this show. Danza has a warm vibrato and delivers his songs with long lines and distinct phrasing. He has adopted the habit of announcing the songwriters of his songbook, songs that tell stories, that characterize people and that are written with wit and lyrical talent. He rendered them with know-how. "Angel Eyes" (Matt Dennis and Earl Brent) was palpably emotional, an outstanding rendition. After some patter about passing years and time, he delivered a nostalgic "When I Was Seventeen" (Erwin Drake), accompanied by Dave Shoup's sensitive guitar.
His opener, "As Long As I'm Singing," written by the multi-talented Bobby Darin, was as much Danza as Darin. Another song that seemed to reflect Danza's youthful natural appeal was Artie Butler's "I Don't Remember Ever Growing Up." He demonstrated his hoofing chops with "How About You," his face tense with concentration but breaking into a grin when the audience applauded.
A special nod went to Sammy Cahn. They met in Hollywood and became good friends. Through Cahn, he met the greats of the day, Tony Bennett, Sammy Davis, Jr, and for Danza, the singer whose voice was a soundtrack of his childhood in Brooklyn, Frank Sinatra. Sinatra, his mother's favorite, influenced Danza and here he delivered a Cahn "Ole Blue Eyes" medley. These included, "Please Be Kind," "Until the Real Thing Comes Along, and "The Second Time Around."
When he brought out the ukelele, he suggested, "Practice this for 30 minutes every day and in 30 days, you can play it for yourself and your friends for the rest of your life." He proved his point with a versatile selection of the uke's special appeal, from Hawaiian tunes to "Ain't She Sweet" to "Love Potion #9."
His love for the standards and appreciation for songwriters, his warm memories of early Brooklyn family life and his life and family today, are all part of Danza's show. Aptly he closes with a snappy, "If They Could See Me Now" (Cy Coleman, Dorothy Fields).
Arranger and former musical director, John Oddo, is gone, but Tony Danza remains irrepressible with Dave Shoup on guitar, John Arbo on bass and Ed Caccavale on drums and Kenny Ascher on piano.
Reviewed by Elizabeth Ahlfors
This review also appears in TotalTheater.com