Jason Danieley & Marin Mazzie Bring a Lovebirds' Medley to the Kennedy Center

By Nelson Pressley
Special to The Washington Post
Monday, February 16, 2009

Broadway lovebirds Jason Danieley and Marin Mazzie wasted no time setting a Valentine's Day mood Saturday night at the Kennedy Center. As Mazzie trilled "Indian Love Call" from the stage, Danieley crooned in return, traipsing down the Terrace Theater aisle as if struck by Cupid's arrow.

With that, the married duo launched into an attention deficit medley of standards that established their big voices while guaranteeing a comic thread for the night. (The leap from "Big D [Dallas]" to "Bess, You Is My Woman Now" was as silly as medleys get.) A slightly bluesy "Honeysuckle Rose" was followed by a sly rendition of "Let's Do It" that took a keen interest in the puckish lyrics; Danieley and Mazzie even rhymed "pajamas" and "llamas" with "Obamas" in an update that would have made Cole Porter grin.

Their act, "Opposite You," was as polished as any in the Barbara Cook's Spotlight Series, and more theatrical than most. (They've toured the show, and have recorded a CD with much of this material.) Accompanied by music director and pianist David Loud, Danieley and Mazzie put stark loneliness in a medley of Harold Arlen songs, singing apart until the warmly harmonized finish of "That Old Black Magic." Mazzie bid fair to be a Mame someday as she delivered a knockout version of "If He Walked Into My Life," and Danieley reprised his recent Broadway turn in "Curtains" with "I Miss the Music," John Kander's tribute to his late writing partner, Fred Ebb.

Danieley seemed to be at his best when unfurling his voice in big round tones, though he showed a fine soft touch with high harmonies. Mazzie is a classic leading lady, a Tony nominee for "Passion" and "Kiss Me, Kate" in the 1990s, and she delivered some long, splendidly lyrical phrases in the ballads "The Natural Order of Things" and "I Got Lost in His Arms."

Stephen Sondheim songs are staples of these affairs, yet Danieley's and Mazzie's "Sondheim Suite" was exceptional. Starting with "Passion's" "Happiness" and ending with "Move On" from "Sunday in the Park with George," the singers pieced together a splendidly sung extended mini-drama that practically had the heft of a full show.

And then again there was the funny business, from the prim rendition of "Nellie, the Nudist Queen" to personal marital insights, including Danieley's blissful disclosure that Mazzie vacuums in the altogether. Mazzie sweetly corrected that with a vaudevillian punch line: "I don't vacuum!" Cute as llamas in pajamas, those two.

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