Mazzie and Danieley toast New Year with SF Symphony

Dec 22

Broadway’s first couple, Marin Mazzie and Jason Danieley, had a pretty good 2008.

He had a long run in the final Kander and Ebb musical, Curtains, and she was the Lady of the Lake in Monty Python’s Spamalot. They also criss-crossed the country doing concerts together, and he recently released his album Jason Danieley and the Frontier Heroes.

The big news this year, though, according to Mazzie: “We bought a country house!”

The couple, which now splits time between Manhattan and the new country home in the Berkshires, will end the year in San Francisco with a pair of New Year’s concerts with the San Francisco Symphony – one New Year’s Eve and one New Year’s Day.

Mazzie and Danieley head into the New Year with projects aplenty, even though Broadway seems to be dimming because of the disastrous economy.

They’ll tour Florida with the Boston Pops Orchestra, perform the Kennedy Center in February and they’ll do a joint gig at Feinstein’s in March. So far, though, no Broadway shows lined up.

“In this economy, shows’ advances are not good and producers are cutting their losses and gearing up for, hopefully, a spring season that will bring some stuff in,” Mazzie says. “I have such great confidence in our new president. I’m beyond joyous about that. I know it’s going to be tough going with this economy, but he’ll be able to turn it around and it will affect everybody. It’s all cyclical. People are still going to go see hit shows. People still want entertainment. I know Broadway is going to suffer, but I’m not all doom and gloom.”

Danieley adds that in a recession, people still value entertainment.

“They just find less expensive forms of entertainment,” he says. “They want to get away from CNN and MSNBC and experience some Gershwin or something of substance. This country went through a depression, and look what the music of that time did for them. It put salve on the wounds of economic scraped knees.”

In their concerts with the SF Symphony, Mazzie and Danieley will perform material from their CD, Opposite You, which is a mix of standards and show tunes. He’ll debut a new arrangement of one of is songs from “Curtains,” “I Miss the Music,” and she’ll incorporate some tunes from her cabaret show, Yes! It’s Today! a revue of songs by Jerry Herman and Kander and Ebb.

Ask the couple what they listen to at home, and you get a steady stream of overlapping names: k.d. lang, Annie Lennox, Shawn Colvin, Alison Krauss, Bonnie Raitt, Ella Fitzgerald, Tony Bennett, Sammy Davis Jr., Frank Sinatra, Rufus Wainwright and James Taylor.

“What I love about Rufus,” Danieley says, “is that he combines his own compositions with covers and standards and makes them his own. In that similar style, we like to approach music we love, take in all that’s going on with the sound of music today, and kind of brush them off and make them a little more contemporary, a little more vital.”

That’s certainly what Danieley has done with his album, Jason Danieley and the Frontier Heroes, a collection of country, folk, Americana sounds that borrow heavily from his childhood in St. Louis, where he played music with his family in their basement.

“My grandma played piano, my mom played the organ, my grandpa played washtub bass,” Danieley says. “We really had a back porch Americana sound. These are my roots and I just really wanted to share this music.”

The album is dedicated to Danieley’s grandmother, who suffered from Alzheimer’s. In her memory, 20 percent of the profit from each CD goes to the Alzheimer’s Association.

Making music, whether it’s from Broadway, pop, the past or the present, never ceases to enthrall Mazzie and Danieley, even though they’ve been doing it for many years – the last 10 as man and wife.

“I love that wherever you listen to music, whether in a symphony hall or at the Blue Note listening to Jane Monheit, the people in the room are having these experiences that get their creative juices flowing and sends them out into the world with a changed outlook. That’s what I love about live performance – it’s a shared experience, and this thing that is created – music – is something we all fee. It is a gift to be part of it.”

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

The San Francisco Symphony’s New Year’s Eve Gala featuring Marin Mazzie and Jason Danieley is at 9 p.m. Dec. 31 at Davies Symphony Hall. Event includes party favors, complimentary champagne, savories and desserts following the concert as well as dancing in the lobby and a midnight cascade of balloons. Tickets are $110-$180.

The New Year’s Day Cabaret Concert is at 2 p.m. Tickets are $20-$90

Call 415-864-6000 or visit www.sfsymphony.org.

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