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Review: The Standard of Excellence Is High When Tony Danza Plays STANDARDS & STORIES at 54 Below

Review: The Standard of Excellence Is High When Tony Danza Plays STANDARDS & STORIES at 54 Below

Television and Broadway star Tony Danza is back on the nightclub stage, quite happily.

The house lights at 54 Below were up and the people in the audience were chatting with their dinner companions. Members of the band were in place, and the show was about to start. Out of the shadows of the kitchen, a friendly and unassuming Tony Danza strolled into the room, smiling, greeting guests who were surprised by this absent-of-fanfare entrance, and looking appropriately dashing in his tailored tuxedo and wavy silver locks. And even though one of the band members had yet to make it to the stage, the Tony Danza show had begun.

Review: The Standard of Excellence Is High When Tony Danza Plays STANDARDS & STORIES at 54 Below This is not how Tony Danza usually begins STANDARDS & STORIES but on his opening night, September 26th, guitarist Dave Shoup left his music binder, with all his charts, in the green room and had to return to the tenth floor of the building to get it. Mr. Danza, knowing that it would take a few minutes and wanting, neither, to start the show without his full company nor leave the audience waiting, took it upon himself to saunter out into the dining room and engage with his guests in an informal open conversation. That is because Tony Danza is a classy fella. He discussed the relationship that he has with his band, explaining the importance of "The Hang" and the importance of these men. He cracked jovial and he cracked authentic, and he took the time to answer a question from the front row about his journey into the terpsichorean talent of tap. Tony Danza made everyone feel welcome and acknowledged and valued, rather like he would if this were his own living room, rather than Broadway's Living Room. Classy fella.

Review: The Standard of Excellence Is High When Tony Danza Plays STANDARDS & STORIES at 54 Below Tony Danza is also a Classic Fellow. During his performance of this club act, Standards & Stories, he proves himself an entertainer in the classic format. The Danza story is not unknown - humble beginnings, boxer, Brooklyn, Italian, star of two iconic television sitcoms. So when he launched his nightclub career, some years back, it surprised people that he had this additional talent (these talents, as people would discover, by way of his tap shoes) but it shouldn't have. And it shouldn't, still. Nobody should be surprised by how good Tony Danza is on the nightclub stage because he fits, beautifully, in with a long history of men in tuxes with a similar heritage, a similar aesthetic, and similar beginnings. Everyone knows their names, everyone knows their histories, and everyone knows their music. And Tony Danza is as good a crooner, as good an entertainer, as any of the men in tuxes who have come before him, and that includes that famous guy from Jersey that everyone considers the greatest. Tony Danza just has something those other Italian crooners didn't have: two iconic sitcoms and an Emmy Award nomination.

Review: The Standard of Excellence Is High When Tony Danza Plays STANDARDS & STORIES at 54 Below With Standards & Stories Mr. Danza has an opportunity to share with his audience more than just the music that was the soundtrack of his life, courtesy of his mother, whose record albums filled his youthful house with music - this is a club act where he gets to share some stories about that mother, about that house, and about his journey to Hollywood and Broadway, complete with some fatherly (and grandfatherly!) pride. Like a natural-born teller of tales, the former talk-show host drops deliciously the names of the people who made his early years in Hollywood exciting, the mentors who helped him find his way, the friends who inspired him along the path, and he shares these stories and names without ever leaning into the boastful. It is clear that Tony Danza has loved this adventure, and it is clear how much he loves what he is doing on the stage: it's difficult to not get drawn in by a person who is having so much fun in their life - and Mr. Danza is really having fun. He has orchestrated his program to allow him plenty of Catskills comedy moments (or Dad jokes, depending on one's point of view), many opportunities to praise the writers of the songs he is singing, chances to show he has the chops for jazz music and Broadway belting, alongside his crooning, and dance breaks - divine, delicious dance breaks. Oh, and he plays the Ukulele, too.

Review: The Standard of Excellence Is High When Tony Danza Plays STANDARDS & STORIES at 54 Below As for the music in Standards & Stories, Mr. Danza has chosen a program of songs that go beyond standards - they are classics, just like him. Anybody with a love of The Great American Songbook will appreciate the opportunity to hear songs like "You Go To My Head" or "How Little We Know" in Danza's voice and performance style (as well as some proper arrangements, many by the late John Oddo), but there is also the little matter of some Broadway material here, like a show stopper from SWEET CHARITY and a couple of numbers from Danza's own Broadway musical HONEYMOON IN VEGAS. The highlights for this writer, though, were a wonderfully straightforward performance of "It Was a Very Good Year" and a personally-informed "I Don't Remember Ever Growing Up" that put (like several of Danza's numbers) a spotlight on a unique aspect of Tony's voice that doesn't come up every day, at every show.

Review: The Standard of Excellence Is High When Tony Danza Plays STANDARDS & STORIES at 54 Below People sometimes refer to a singer as having a "silky" voice. It's a good descriptive, one to which people can relate. But anyone who has ever handled silk knows the dichotomy of the fabric: it is sleek, it is shiny, it is luxurious - it is also rough, it is also coarse, it is filled with texture and it is tactile. The touch of silk is a unique experience that, once had, one never forgets. Everyone knows the feel of silk. That's Tony Danza's voice. It is so seasoned, so full of colors and sensations, that it becomes one of the occasions that it is possible to say that a voice is silky and actually mean it. And it is a sound that matches, perfectly, the Tony Danza aesthetic, a gorgeous, flirtatious, sensual, and playful one. It is a genuine pleasure to listen to him sing, to observe the ways in which he has chosen to interpret the music that has been laid down by the crooners who came before. It is a joy to be in the room for the Dad jokes, the tap dancing, and the (truly delightful) Ukulele medley. Standards & Stories is a good, old-fashioned Tux Set to be enjoyed with a Scotch, Martini or Merlot, and a fine dinner date. Tony Danza is not standard - he is classic, and he is worth catching in the act.

The Standards & Stories band are Dave Schupp on Guitar, John Arbo on Bass, Ed Caccavale on Drums, and Musical Director Joe Davidian on piano.

Tony Danza STANDARDS & STORIES will play 54 Below September 28th through October 1st at 7 pm. For information and reservations visit the 54 Below website HERE.

Review: The Standard of Excellence Is High When Tony Danza Plays STANDARDS & STORIES at 54 Below

Review: The Standard of Excellence Is High When Tony Danza Plays STANDARDS & STORIES at 54 Below

Review: The Standard of Excellence Is High When Tony Danza Plays STANDARDS & STORIES at 54 Below Review: The Standard of Excellence Is High When Tony Danza Plays STANDARDS & STORIES at 54 Below Review: The Standard of Excellence Is High When Tony Danza Plays STANDARDS & STORIES at 54 Below Review: The Standard of Excellence Is High When Tony Danza Plays STANDARDS & STORIES at 54 Below Review: The Standard of Excellence Is High When Tony Danza Plays STANDARDS & STORIES at 54 Below

Review: The Standard of Excellence Is High When Tony Danza Plays STANDARDS & STORIES at 54 Below Review: The Standard of Excellence Is High When Tony Danza Plays STANDARDS & STORIES at 54 Below Review: The Standard of Excellence Is High When Tony Danza Plays STANDARDS & STORIES at 54 Below Review: The Standard of Excellence Is High When Tony Danza Plays STANDARDS & STORIES at 54 Below Review: The Standard of Excellence Is High When Tony Danza Plays STANDARDS & STORIES at 54 Below Review: The Standard of Excellence Is High When Tony Danza Plays STANDARDS & STORIES at 54 Below Review: The Standard of Excellence Is High When Tony Danza Plays STANDARDS & STORIES at 54 Below

Review: The Standard of Excellence Is High When Tony Danza Plays STANDARDS & STORIES at 54 Below Review: The Standard of Excellence Is High When Tony Danza Plays STANDARDS & STORIES at 54 Below

Review: The Standard of Excellence Is High When Tony Danza Plays STANDARDS & STORIES at 54 Below Review: The Standard of Excellence Is High When Tony Danza Plays STANDARDS & STORIES at 54 Below Review: The Standard of Excellence Is High When Tony Danza Plays STANDARDS & STORIES at 54 Below

Review: The Standard of Excellence Is High When Tony Danza Plays STANDARDS & STORIES at 54 Below

Review: The Standard of Excellence Is High When Tony Danza Plays STANDARDS & STORIES at 54 Below Review: The Standard of Excellence Is High When Tony Danza Plays STANDARDS & STORIES at 54 Below

Review: The Standard of Excellence Is High When Tony Danza Plays STANDARDS & STORIES at 54 Below

Review: The Standard of Excellence Is High When Tony Danza Plays STANDARDS & STORIES at 54 Below Review: The Standard of Excellence Is High When Tony Danza Plays STANDARDS & STORIES at 54 Below Review: The Standard of Excellence Is High When Tony Danza Plays STANDARDS & STORIES at 54 Below Review: The Standard of Excellence Is High When Tony Danza Plays STANDARDS & STORIES at 54 Below

Review: The Standard of Excellence Is High When Tony Danza Plays STANDARDS & STORIES at 54 Below Review: The Standard of Excellence Is High When Tony Danza Plays STANDARDS & STORIES at 54 Below Review: The Standard of Excellence Is High When Tony Danza Plays STANDARDS & STORIES at 54 Below

Review: The Standard of Excellence Is High When Tony Danza Plays STANDARDS & STORIES at 54 Below Review: The Standard of Excellence Is High When Tony Danza Plays STANDARDS & STORIES at 54 Below Review: The Standard of Excellence Is High When Tony Danza Plays STANDARDS & STORIES at 54 Below Review: The Standard of Excellence Is High When Tony Danza Plays STANDARDS & STORIES at 54 Below

Review: The Standard of Excellence Is High When Tony Danza Plays STANDARDS & STORIES at 54 Below

Review: The Standard of Excellence Is High When Tony Danza Plays STANDARDS & STORIES at 54 Below Photos by Stephen Mosher

Visit the Stephen Mosher website HERE.


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From This Author - Stephen Mosher

Stephen Mosher is the author of The Sweater Book (a collection of his photography featuring celebrated artists from the entertainment communities of New York, Los Angeles, and London), Lived In Cra... (read more about this author)


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