By Tulis McCall
Tony Danza does not have to do this. I imagine that at any given second, episodes of “Taxi” and “Who’s The Boss” are playing somewhere on this planet. Residuals are flowing into his bank account even as you read this.
So what is he doing crooning his heart out at the Carlyle through September 21? He is having one helluva good time. He is having such a good time that I didn’t notice that he is performing the exact set that he performed last March. I am a very picky observer and this slipped by me. Take note.
Something is different this time around. Danza is more relaxed, more playful. The old jokes, with one exception, do not sound old. He is having a good time, and he wants you to have one as well. This act is smooth and made swell by his band: Kenny Ascher – Piano, Dave Shoup – Guitar, John Arbo – Bass, Ed Caccavale – Drums who know exactly how to support and engage Danza.
His opening number, “As Long As I’m Singing” (Bobby Darren) lights up the room and makes you want to sing. Or at least makes you THINK you can. Danza flips though one standard after another like cards in a poker game. Some he holds close to his vest. By his own admission he has led a charmed life, falling in with the likes of Sammy Cahn, Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack. Somewhere along the line their style rubbed off on him and stuck.
Since last spring he has also been giving to his home town, New York – he paraphrases John Updike early on: “people who don’t live in New York are just kidding” – by working with the Police Athletic League Teen Acting Program – he is hosting a benefit there tonight (Thursday the 19th while Seth McFarlane fills in). He believes in this program and these kids. This guy believes in passing on what he knows the way it was done to him. (He makes no mention of his year long stint as a teacher in Philadelphia.)
Danza is a meat and potatoes kind of guy with a voice like a silk smoking jacket. He is trim, tailored and terrific. You can watch a clip of his performing HERE.
He has still not mastered the art of schmoozing with the crowd after the show as many of the Carlyle regulars do. But now that he is becoming one, and for good reason, perhaps he will consider it.
No matter. This 90 minute show is worth the bother. Way worth the bother.
Tony Danza: Standards and Stories – Café Carlyle Through September 21. Performances will take place Tuesday –Saturday at 8:45pm. Weekday pricing begins at $100 per person Bar Seating; $75 for General and Premium Seating $150. Weekend pricing begins at $95 per person Bar Seating, $185 Premium Seating and $135 for General. Reservations can be made online via www.Ticketweb.com. .Café Carlyle is located in The Carlyle, A Rosewood Hotel (35 East 76th Street, at Madison Avenue)