Broadway's "Golden Couple", Marin Mazzie and Jason Daniely, brought their newest Concert-Cabaret to The Annenberg Theatre last Saturday night to a near-sold-out, highly appreciative crowd and for ninety-plus minutes recounted their personal love story in anecdote and song. ("We've been married for 16 years - which is like 60 years in Show Business") I have to say I was neither overwhelmed nor under-whelmed by the performance - it never really moved me emotionally and was, at best, lukewarm - but I wouldn't say it was completely unsatisfying either.
There is no denying the tremendous talents of two of Broadway's finest actor-singers and they were both in fine voice. Mazzie displays one of the finest mixes I have ever seen, moving effortlessly through her incredible range, and she knows how to deliver a lyric! She is a highly skilled musical storyteller and every word, -- every phrase -- is thoughtfully nuanced for the greatest dramatic impact. Daniely's tenor voice is simply lovely but his performance seemed overly controlled and very contrived. The anecdotes were mild - mildly amusing and mildly interesting - and the show lacked warmth and honesty. It seemed very "practiced" -- and I don't mean "well rehearsed" -- but rather distant and unemotional. It was, at times, vocal perfection and spectacular lyric interpretation but always keeping the audience at an emotional arms length.
Mazzie's "Cry Me A River" was brilliant and her "He Never Said He Loved Me" showed off her wonderful comedic timing to a tee. Her "Smile" and "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered" were two of the finest interpretations of the lyrics I have ever seen and she gave new meaning to words I have heard so many times before. Daniely's shining moment came in a very simple "One More For The Road" where, three quarters through the show, I FINALLY felt something more than just an appreciation for his vocal instrument. Most of the concert was a back and forth between the duo doing solo after solo - it was a shame they didn't "duet" a little more. "Too Close For Comfort" was a very fresh and unique arrangement that showed them both off well and gave the audience some much yearned for harmony, but again was emotionally numb. They talked and sang a lot about the emotional highs and lows of a love story but never allowed the audience to feel it along with them.
The show's finest moment came in the encore when the pair sang "From This Moment On" with a frivolity and recklessness and abandon that would have served them well through the entire performance. It was the first time any "personality" came through and it was joyful. It was the first time that the "chemistry" of their love story was evident. It was the way they should have opened the show and they would have set the tone, and set the stage, for something much more engaging and emotionally fulfilling.
Upcoming at The Annenberg Theatre -- Davis Gaines on March 23 at 8:00 pm and Christine Ebersole on April 13 at 8:00 pm. For tickets or information call 760-325-4490 or visit www.annenbergtheater.org