Regional Reviews: San Francisco
Marin Mazzie and Jason Danieley
Broadway's golden couple, Marin Mazzie and Jason Danieley, appeared at the Bay Area Cabaret 2005 Opening Gala on October 23rd with songs from their new album, Opposite You. It was a perfect combination of vibrant voices together in delicious harmony. They were accompanied by brilliant pianist and arranger Paul Ford.
My appreciation for Marin Mazzie goes back to when she appeared here 12 years ago in And the World Goes 'Round, and it was renewed when I saw her play Clara in Passion. My admiration for her has never diminished. I hold the same esteem for Jason Danieley, with his marvelous light baritone voice. I first saw him in New York as the perfect naïve Candide and later in The Full Monty and the local concert version of Of Thee I Sing. Together these two are peaches and cream.
Marin and Jason are basically doing their Lincoln Center American Songbook Series show from a few years back, with some modifications and additions. Ms. Mazzie looked radiant in an olive green cocktail dress, coming onto the small platform stage to sing "Indian Love Call" to Jason, who was standing in the back. He emerged to perform a tongue-in-cheek answer to her call from the Rudolph Friml piece. They began an excitedly fervent 15-tune medley, running from Cole Porter to Irving Berlin to Jerome Kern and other composers in a matter of minutes, with smooth transitions. All of the songs were a celebration of love.
The couple continued with a charming duet of Fats Waller and Andy Razaf's "Honeysuckle Rose," blending their voices in exquisite harmony. They were wonderful in a special arrangement of Cole Porter's "Let's Do It (Let's Fall in Love)," with special lyrics involving flying creatures, marine life and mammals for each segment of the song. Marin and Jason honored Harold Arlen with four of his greatest hits, featuring Ms. Mazzie center stage doing a poignant solo on "Come Rain or Come Shine," joined by Jason toward the end of the touching song. They went immediately into "Stormy Weather" and "That Old Black Magic."
Marin and Jason announced that they would sing three "not so familiar songs" by some new Broadway composers. They called the set "Contemporary Relations," and it included Barbara Schottenfeld's "I Want You to Be ..." sung in a comic style by Jason; Scott Burkell and Paul Loesel's "A Sorta Love Song" by the effervescent Marin; and the lovely "A Natural Order of Things" also by Burkell and Loesel.
Marin rang those bells lyrically and comically on "Ring Them Bells," with Jason doing nice work on little bells in the background. Jason really reached out emotionally with Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim's "Maria," reaching wonderful high notes that were almost perfect. "Maria" is one of the hardest songs that any singer can sing and he sang it to near perfection. Marin joined her husband with "Tonight" by the same team. Then Jason continued the romantic mood with Jerry Herman's "I Won't Bring Roses."
"Nellie the Nudist Queen," by Stuart Ross and Joe Sargent, is a good old fashioned vaudeville type song that was a real kicker for the husband and wife. The couple honored the contrapuntal Irving Berlin by singing three of his songs as a unit: "Simple Melody," "An Old Fashioned Wedding" and "You're Just in Love" were done with impeccable taste. The piece de resistance was the solid Stephen Sondheim Suite, extra special with the composer's favorite pianist on the keyboards. It was shear pleasure listening to five of the master's songs ("Happiness," "Good Thing Going," "Too Many Mornings" "Not a Day Goes By" and "Move On").
The show ended with a new song by Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens called "Opposite You." For an encore they ripped into Arthur Fields and Walter Donovan's "Aba Daba Honeymoon." All I can say is what Variety has said: "When they sing, the heart seems to beat a little faster."
Bay Area 2005 Cabaret will host two more outstanding artists: Darius De Haas doing the Stevie Wonder Songbook November 20 and Karen Mason in The Winner Takes It All on December 11. For more information on the dates and tickets please go to www.bayareacabaret.org or call City Box Office at 415-392-4400. You can also purchase tickets in person at Medium Rare Music, 2310 Market at Noe, San Francisco. These will occur at the Marines Memorial Club Room on the 11th floor of the building located Sutter Street, San Francisco.