Log In

Reset Password

Song and Danza man: Tony taxis cabaret act to Musikfest Cafe

Few names evoke a sense of nostalgia and admiration quite like Tony Danza’s.

With a career spanning more than four decades, the perpetually-youthful Danza has cemented his legacy as a versatile performer, effortlessly transitioning from professional boxer to starring in iconic TV sitcoms (“Taxi,” “Who’s the Boss?”), acting in movies and to song-and-dance man. Emmy Award-nominated Danza appears to have done it all.

Danza performs personally-curated selections from the Great American Songbook in “Standards & Stories,” 7:30 p.m. April 5, Musikfest Café, ArtsQuest Center, Bethlehem.

“I’m preparing a new cabaret show,” he says during a recent telephone call. “It’s remembering Frank Sinatra. I actually got to be around him, and I got to know him. I introduced my mother to him.

“I have these stories, but I also want to talk about his effect He’s the greatest entertainer of the 20th century. It’s unbelievable. At one point in his life, he was the number one pop star and also the number one movie star. It’s like being Tom Cruise and Taylor Swift at the same time.

“I’m going to have to come back to Bethlehem [to perform the new show],” he adds.

Discussing “Standards & Stories,” Danza says, “It’s magnificent. It’s just so much fun. It’s like an old TV variety show. Remember those variety shows where they had a host and then a whole bunch of different acts, like “The Ed Sullivan Show?’

“Well, I’m the host and all the acts and I try to do a bunch of stuff,” he continues.

“One of the things that I’m really proud of and what I think separates me from a lot of the guys that do these types of shows is I try to get laughs.

“I want to make them laugh. I don’t want you to sit there and listen to me sing, I want the show to be more. I want people to have a good time and get their money’s worth and to make it worthwhile going out.”

Beyond the songs and laughs, Danza blends other elements into his performance, giving the audience an unforgettable experience. “I tap dance. I bring out my secret weapon,” he pauses, “the ukulele. Wait until you hear Billie Holiday on the ukulele,” he laughs.

When asked how he evolved into a stage performer he explains, “This all started, in 1993. I’m skiing in Deer Valley [ski resort in Utah] and I hit a tree. I break my back. I almost killed myself. I’m in intensive care for three weeks.

“It took me two years to come back from it. It was a tough thing because I had just done ‘Angels in the Outfield’ [1994], which was a hit movie. I was in the movies now and everything was going great and then I didn’t work for two years.

“There was a chance I wasn’t going to walk again. Not to be dramatic, but I broke my back. It was a mess. But somehow they put me back together and I worked hard and I’m OK.

“I was thinking to myself as I recovered, and when I realized that I was going to recover: What haven’t I done?

“I’m getting a second chance, basically,” he adds. “I always wanted to be a song-and-dance man. I had been tap dancing for about 10 years by that time because I started in ’83.

“I put together an act. I got the great Buz Kohan, one of the great vaudeville writers, to help me with an act, and we put this act together and I just started doing it.

“It’s very scary. It’s really scary to open your mouth and sing, to be up there by yourself and not get self-conscious. Can you get through that?

“You can’t learn that from a book or anybody else. You just have to go do it and sometimes it’s ugly. Sometimes, you stink,’ he laughs.

“Sometimes you’re singing at a performing arts center, and the next night you’ve got a roller coaster going by in the background, but you need that, where you can go up there and be in charge.

“Now, drop of the hat, you want me to sing? OK!”

Tony Danza, “Standards & Stories,” 7:30 p.m. April 5, Musikfest Café, ArtsQuest Center, SteelStacks, 101 Founders Way, Bethlehem. Tickets: 610-332-1300; https://www.steelstacks.org/

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO Tony Danza, “Standards & Stories,” 7:30 p.m. April 5, Musikfest Café, Bethlehem.