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BWW Review: JASON DANIELEY Returns to Live Performances With REFLECTIONS at 54 Below

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Jason Danieley Creates a Beautiful Show about Grief, Love and Hope

BWW Review: JASON DANIELEY Returns to Live Performances  With REFLECTIONS  at 54 Below

Grief is an unusual subject for a cabaret evening. Although it is one of the most universal of human conditions, we, as a species, spend an extraordinary amount of time and energy trying not to think about it. But Jason Danieley (Candide, The Full Monty, Curtains, Next to Normal, The Visit, Pretty Woman) is not a usual actor. His work has always been noteworthy for the amount of passion and sensitivity he pours into everything he does. That passion was on full display in his show REFLECTIONS, which opened this evening at 54 Below.

For a show entitled REFLECTIONS, it was a remarkably forward-looking evening. He walked us through the unthinkable loss of his wife, Broadway star Marin Mazzie, and the two and a half years in the aftermath of that tragic event, in which he also suffered not only the loss of his dog but also had battles with viral meningitis and Covid. But the ever-present theme of the show was about what comes next, which new chapters are unfolding and which have yet to reveal their treasures. The show may be about grief, but hope is definitely the driving force behind it.

BWW Review: JASON DANIELEY Returns to Live Performances  With REFLECTIONS  at 54 Below

Mr. Danieley has always been one of the most exquisite tenors on Broadway, and he was in exceedingly fine voice, giving us a program that included some well-loved standards by Gershwin, Cole Porter, Jerome Kern, Hoagy Carmichael, Anthony Newley, Richard Rodgers, and Harry Connick, Jr. His pianist and musical director, Joseph Thalken, created the thoughtful and wonderful arrangements.

The evening began with a film, voiced by Danieley of A Smile Remembered, a beautiful and nostalgic poem by his friend Michael Meckes which segued into his first number, "Smile" with the all too poignant lyric "Smile though your heart is aching. " There was no doubt that this was to be an evening about loss. This was followed by a song called "Time" by musical director, Joseph Thalken, that talked about the promise of love is having years to enjoy it. He combined this idea with Hague and Horwitt's "Young and Foolish." The two songs back to back were gorgeously heartbreaking.

Danieley told a story about going on a spiritual quest with his sister to meditate in the Himalayas and to think about the big questions. He didn't find the answers to those big questions, but he did come home with viral meningitis which led to a bit of a crisis of faith for the former southern baptist preacher's kid. He used this story as a prelude to Anthony Newley's great anthem "Who Can I Turn Too?" It served to highlight the low point of his journey. From there, the journey moved into more hopeful territory. He used Gershwin's "Soon" as a love song to a new love, a dog that he adopted from a shelter. He confessed there is also a new woman in his life, Andrea. He dedicated Kern and Hammerstein's rapturous "All the Things You Are" to her.

The remainder of the evening was about hopeful beginnings and included Porter's "Night and Day." "The Nearness of You" The Love She Found in Me" and "The Recipe for Making Love. Danieley has a voice tailor-made for standards. It is lush, warm and unlike many modern singers, he uses his entire dynamic range to ravishing effect.

He finished his evening with a wonderfully ethereal arrangement of Rodgers and Hammerstein's 'You'll Never Walk Alone." It was a cathartic capstone on an evening that was about journeying through some of life's darkest valleys. The audience was immediately on its feet. Danieley talked about the thing we work so hard to deny. It is remarkable to have the ability to turn that into art.BWW Review: JASON DANIELEY Returns to Live Performances  With REFLECTIONS  at 54 Below

Jason Danieley returns to 54 Below Monday, August 2 with a repeat performance of REFLECTIONS. For tickets, or to find other great acts at 54 Below go to 54below.com. For more information on Jason Danieley, visit his website jasondanieley.com or follow him @jasonDanieley on Twitter or @jdanieley on Instagram. For more information about Joseph Thalken, go to jospehthalken.com.


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