An occasional look at the showbiz stars who come to Washington to lend their fame to a favorite cause. Saturday’s visitor: Dominic Chianese.
Event: A musical performance to kick off National Nursing Home Week.
Setting: The Methodist Home in upper Northwest Washington.
Bona fides: Six seasons as mob boss Uncle Junior on “The Sopranos”; a new role on “Boardwalk Empire”; past stints as tavern singer and nursing-home worker.
What he wants: To raise funds for his nonprofit Joy Through Art, which aims to bring live music and theater into nursing homes.
How he looked: Almost unrecognizable with a white goatee instead of Junior’s thick specs — but you’d know the 81-year-old’s Bronx-tinged baritone anywhere.
What he did: Played guitar, sang oldies (“Summertime,” “Jambalaya,” “You Are My Sunshine”) for residents and lit up the entire room. When a man in a wheelchair began harmonizing, the delighted actor (“That’s a gift. We should go on tour!”) coaxed him through a solo of “Danny Boy.”
Backstory: In the early ’80s, Chianese left acting for a job in a nursing home, where he realized how much live music boosted residents’ spirits; his late-career success enabled him to start the nonprofit organization. “Thank God for ‘The Sopranos,’ ” he told us. “This is my calling.”