Veteran actor Tony Danza is best known for his iconic roles in sitcoms such as Taxi and Who’s The Boss? But the Brooklyn native is taking a break from the camera to pursue another passion with his stage show Tony Danza: Standards & Stories.
“I have been chasing my song and dance man dream for over 20 years now,” Danza said. “One of the things that you learn is that it takes a long time to get good at it. You have to endure the process and love doing it. I wrote this particular show using that experience to fashion a piece that connects me to my audience.”
Danza, who performs the show Dec. 21 at the NYCB Theatre at Westbury, said the show is near and dear to his heart. It’s filled with anecdotes from his life along with performances of tunes from the Great American Songbook and the hit Broadway musical Honeymoon in Vegas where he starred as Tommy Korman.
“The stories are personal and funny,” he said. “The arc of the show is enhanced by the songs and the songs help me make the connection that I’m looking for.”
Danza dished more about the show, his current television projects and some of his memories spending childhood summers in Patchogue.
Kevin Can Wait Star Chris Roach Talks Big Break
Has the show evolved since it premiered in 2015?
This show hasn’t been around that long, but it’s me, as a writer and performer, who has evolved. I approach both so differently now. I’m sure of what I am going for in the writing and I am able to not think of anything except having a good time up there…And if I really enjoy myself, then the audience will as well. The songs are favorites of mine—somewhat off the beaten path and effective in helping me evoke the right emotional hook.
Do the songs change much from night to night? Do you have a favorite portion of the show?
The songs are set but I do a segment of the act on my secret weapon—my ukulele. I play songs from the Great American Songbook on the uke. And I try to stump the band. I never can but I surprise them every night. It’s a lot of fun.
Do you have a preference between the stage or television?
I get a thrill out of it all of it but the immediate response of a live audience is hard to beat.
You also have a starring role in The Good Cop on Netflix. What can you tell me about that role/show?
The role of Big Tony in The Good Cop is the antithesis of the title. He’s the bad cop.
You’re also starring in the Hulu series There’s Johnny. How did that come about? Did you know The Tonight Show producer Fred de Cordova well?
There’s Johnny was written by Paul Reiser and he’s a friend. He called and pitched the idea and said he wanted me to play Freddie de Cordova. I knew Freddie both from The Tonight Show and from the social scene in L.A. at the time. I jumped at the chance. It’s a terrific show that will surprise. It goes to unexpected places. We are partnered with the Carson Estate and use clips from The Tonight Show to build a whole reality that the actors walk in and out of. I really enjoyed doing it. Smart show.
Do you have any good memories from Long Island?
I grew up in Brooklyn until I was 15 when we moved to Malverne. But before that, from the time I was six, I spent every summer in Patchogue with my aunt and uncle. I have so many summer memories: the Patchogue Pool, fishing, crabbing and clamming with my crazy uncle Vin; the YMCA and its trampoline; arts and crafts at the park; my cousin’s ’56 Chevy that I learned to drive when I was nine. Idyllic summers—another gift.