Depending on your musical proclivities, the biggest thing to come out of Rockford, Ill. is either Cheap Trick or Marin Mazzie. Mazzie and her husband, Jason Danieley, have been dubbed "Broadway's golden couple" and have performed at the likes of Carnegie Hall, the Hollywood Bowl and London's West End.
Yet for one night, Madisonians had them all to ourselves at the Wisconsin Union Theater, as part of the Four Seasons Theatre production "An Evening of Broadway with Marin Mazzie & Jason Danieley."
The evening's theme was partnerships -- both the couple's own and those of legendary Broadway songwriting teams. Mazzie and Danieley have been married since 1997 and, as Danieley noted, many a show-biz marriage has failed to last as long as some of the great writing collaborations.
Interpreting songs by Rodgers and Hammerstein, Rodgers and Hart, Kander and Ebb and others, Mazzie and Danieley displayed a smooth chemistry of their own. The two have a familiar, polished way with each other on stage that, fortunately, does not devolve into shtick.
And it's hard not be mesmerized by these two, even if you're not generally a Broadway fan: they are genetically and vocally blessed. A statuesque blonde, Mazzie took the stage in a sleeveless, emerald-green dress with a plunging neckline, and changed into a floor-length, '30s-inspired gown of raspberry satin for the show's second half.
With his swept-back hair and tux, Danieley had the debonair charm of another era and the warm, rich tenor voice to back it up. Yet despite their phenomenal pipes and good looks, Mazzie and Danieley also project an approachable, down-to-earth vibe. The New Yorkers clearly seemed pleased to be back in the Midwest (Danieley's from St. Louis), and Mazzie revealed onstage that she'd gone to high school with Union Theater head Ralph Russo.
The pair were backed up by the Four Seasons Theatre Orchestra and Chorus, conducted by Four Seasons artistic director Andrew Abrams. The program was both humorous and poignant, and Danieley and Mazzie each had plenty of solo tunes in addition to their duets.
Danieley soared on two Rodgers and Hammerstein tunes: "Love Look Away" from Flower Drum Song and "Younger than Springtime" from South Pacific. Mazzie highlights included Kander and Ebb's "Ring Them Bells" and Rodgers and Hart's "The Lady is a Tramp."
Together, the two did a spirited version of "Oklahoma!" from the musical of the same name, backed by a large chorus. While in 2010 it's hard not to find the 1943 musical painfully corny, Mazzie, Danieley and the other performers were able to pull it off in a way that was knowing and a little sly but not condescending to the material. When your lyrics include words like "pertaters" and "termayters," you've just gotta commit to them.
Mazzie and Danieley closed out the evening by performing "Opposite You," the title track from their 2005 CD, as an encore.
The one-night-only event successfully mixed Broadway pizzazz and Midwestern roots, big stars and local talent. While there were a few minor distractions -- conductor Abrams hitching up his tuxedo pants more than once, an apparently flubbed line by a chorus member in "Nothing Like a Dame" -- it was, all in all, a memorable and lively evening, and an ambitious undertaking for FST.