Tony Danza Brings Sinatra and More to Sarasota Opera

Music

BY PHILIP LEDERER SRQ DAILY WEDNESDAY PHILANTHROPY EDITION WEDNESDAY MAY 2, 2018

Sarasota Opera kicks off a brand new summer series dedicated to live musical performance, Sarasota Opera House Presents, this Friday, May 4, with a special celebrity guest. In town and onstage for one night only, actor, musician and all-around troubadour Tony Danza, of Taxi and Who’s The Boss fame, brings his celebrated cabaret-esque show, Tony Danza: Standards & Stories, to the opera house for a night of singing, tap dancing, storytelling and more than a little ukulele. “I’m having about the most fun you could have,” says Danza. “I’m out of control.”

Armed with a four-piece band of “top-notch” musicians and endless charisma, Danza brings the audience on a whirlwind journey through the Great American Songbook, with some special love for Frank Sinatra. He may not have had any musical training growing up, he says, but he definitely learned a thing or two from Sinatra, by way of mother Danza. Saturday was the day for cleaning house, Danza recalls, and that also made it the day for Sinatra records. The two would clean and clean, with his mother intermittently pausing their progress to make sure young Danza was paying attention to Sinatra too. “I would listen,” he says, “but I would watch her. She would be so moved.” He didn’t think too much of it at the time, but when he entered 11th grade and Old Blue Eyes topped the charts with “Strangers in the Night,” he thought maybe old ma was onto something. It’s a respect for the music that he maintains in his performance too, even as he’s having fun. Everyone, he says, should take an occasion to listen to the lyrics. “Each song is like a little play,” he says. “And I strive to service the songs.”

Today, Sinatra plays as important a role in Danza’s show as do those stories about his childhood, his mother and all the people and music that influenced and moved him along the way. And with the show evolving in its more than 20 years on the road, Danza finds ways to keep it fresh, such as adding the ukulele, which came almost on a whim. “It elbowed aside my trumpet playing,” he jokes, conceding that it may be for the best, as his trumpet skills were perhaps less than ideal. Instead the ukulele brings a fresh spin to classics like “Guess I’ll Let My Tears Out to Dry” and he’s even working on a version of “Makin’ Whoopee.”

But whether tap dancing, telling stories, singing songs or strumming that ukulele, nothing beats the energy of being tuxed out centerstage, under the spotlight and in front of the audience. “It’s every Italian’s fantasy,” laughs Danza.

Appearing for one night only, Tony Danza: Standards and Stories is this Friday, May 4, at 7:30pm at the Sarasota Opera House. Seating is limited, but tickets are still available.

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