Review: Tony Danza Is a Natural in STANDARDS & STORIES at 54 Below

See the TAXI & WHO'S THE BOSS star for two final performances May 31 and June 1

By: May. 30, 2024
Review: Tony Danza Is a Natural in STANDARDS & STORIES at 54 Below
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Tony Danza was all grace and charm at his solo show Standards and Stories on May 28, 2024 at 54 Below. The actor, best known for his roles on Taxi and Who’s the Boss?, also has a deep love for American standards, which he demonstrated at the show’s opening night. (If you didn’t make it out yet, Danza has two more performances at 54 Below – you can catch him tomorrow, Friday May 31 and Saturday June 1, both at 7 pm.)

With such an extensive background in acting, it’s no surprise that Danza is a natural on stage, very much comfortable just being himself. Although Danza has enough star power to sell tickets to anything, he’s also a genuinely great singer. If you’re still thinking about seeing the show and don’t want any spoilers, I will say broadly to expect a night of showstoppers, especially if you enjoy 60s and 70s classics.  Between songs, he dazzled the crowd with stories from his past as a celebrity in the 70s and 80s (back when there were only three channels, so being on TV was “like rarefied air,” as Danza put it) all the way up to the present (where being on TV is still impressive but enough less so that Danza jokingly seemed to forget about the show he’s on right now, Power Book III: Raising Kanan on STARZ). The multi-talented star can also tap dance and play the ukelele quite well (he got the idea to pick up that instrument from a “thought a day” calendar which advised you to spend 30 minutes a day practicing for 30 days and then have a skill that you can use to entertain your friends forever). Danza had the crowd smiling and laughing from start to finish. His act and the charming ambience and delicious food and drink at 54 make for a perfectly lovely, unforgettable evening. If you’re still thinking about it, stop reading right now and get your tickets.

Danza opened the show with a strong “As Long As I’m Singing” (music and lyrics by Bobby Darin), showing off his stuff and an impressive ability to scat and go with the jazzy flow of his band. He introduced the band members with that signature Tony Danza charm, giving a little tidbit about each as he went down the line: music director Joe Davidian on piano was “too young for the group, but I think we’re gonna keep him,” Danza quipped. He called Dave Schupp (on guitar) the “spiritual leader” of the group; Ed Caccavale on drums is a “sage”; John Arbo on bass got a shout out for being an excellent driver when the group tours. He did a few “street jokes” to warm up the crowd, joking that his band liked it when he eased people into his act with a little laughter. Danza is very funny; he had some memorable quips throughout. “You’ve heard of an O.G.? Original Gangster? My mother was an O.B. – Original Bobby Soxer.” Danza’s mother introduced him to all of the Great American Songbook classics, plus the music of Frank Sinatra (of course) – and Danza has plenty of entertaining stories about the opportunities his star power afforded him to schmooze with some of the O.G.s of the 20th century music scene, including none other than Sammy Cahn (lyricist behind hits such as “Let It Snow!”). Danza treated us to a little bit of an original parody lyric written for him by Cahn – “There’s No Tony Like This Tony.” It’s hard to pick the best part of the evening, but some highlights were a powerful rendition of “It Was a Very Good Year,” accompanied just by guitar, really emphasizing Danza’s clear singing voice. Danza also made a lengthy pit stop at Jason Robert Brown’s wonderful Honeymood in Vegas (2015), singing a selection of songs which he did and didn’t sing when he starred in the original production. Danza’s impeccable sense of comedic timing and acting choices make him the perfect fit for JRB’s witty lyrics. He had the crowd roaring with laughter on “Out of the Sun,” in which he regrets how his true love, a chronic sunbather, died from skin cancer.

At the end of the night, where a singer would have left the stage and pretended to be drawn back for a surprise, unplanned encore, Danza made a motion of leaving and then threw up his hands and stayed, joking that he was too old to go down the stairs and all the way back up again. He proceeded to wow the crowd with a final number, a medley of “a different type of American standard,” a series of Motown hits like “My Girl” and “I Heard It Through The Grapevine.”

Go see Danza tomorrow and Saturday night at 54 Below.

You can follow him on Instagram @TonyDanza.


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