‘Every Italian’s Fantasy’: Tony Danza Reflects Ahead of Shows at Tilles Center, The Suffolk

tony danza
Tony Danza will perform “Tony Danza: Standards & Stories” at The Suffolk in Riverhead on Dec. 3.

A crooning, tap-dancing, storytelling Tony Danza will take his traveling show “Tony Danza: Standards & Stories” to the Tilles Center at LIU Post on Dec. 2 and The Suffolk in Riverhead on Dec. 3.

The acting star, who grew up in New York City and Malverne, Long Island, is best known for his roles in the television series Taxi and Who’s The Boss. Though he still acts for TV, he’s also taking his many talents to stages across the country, from the Catalina on Los Angeles’s Sunset Boulevard to The Carlyle jazz club in New York City.

The Press caught up with Danza to learn more about the show, featuring himself and a four-man band, that has delighted audiences for years.

What is most special about “Tony Danza: Standards & Stories”?

It’s a throwback – it’s a show that people used to do. People will be really surprised. Not only am I singing, but you get some comedy and my secret weapon, my ukulele. It reminds me of the old-style variety shows that used to be on TV. In this, I’m the host and I’m all the guests. Basically that’s what it is. 

It’s such a gift to be able to do it. Not only is it every Italian’s fantasy, but it’s the only time I’m really happy. Much like when you’re cooking and chopping garlic, you can’t really think of anything else while you’re doing it. It’s really fun. And I find the more fun I’m having, the more fun the audience has.

What does it mean to be performing on Long Island?

Well it’s like coming home. I’m sure I’ll see a lot of my friends and family. It’s nice when the family shows up. It’s like a homecoming and certainly I have an advantage having come from this area to try and make that connection with people because that’s what it’s all about. You’re trying to make a connection with the audience that the songs evoke and enhance. 

How has “Tony Danza: Standards & Stories” changed since you first performed it?

It’s been a longtime pursuit of mine. I had a bad accident in 1993. I survived it and I was sitting in my house thinking, ‘What haven’t I done?’ I’d been tap dancing, I can sing, so I went about producing an act. 

At first there were all the trappings – I had video tape, sets, costumes, dancers. Little by little, you keep doing it and keep shedding the trappings, and you end up with a band and yourself. It takes time to learn how to do this. It’s not something you learn or read in a book, you have to go out and do it.

How does performing on stage compare to work you’ve done on television?

I’m a performer, I enjoy this. I’m in a show [Power Book III: Raising Kanan] that’s the most fun ever, it’s hysterical. I’m also doing a part in the Sex and the City [spinoff And Just Like That…]. So I really enjoy this profession. I love to sing, that’s the Italian in me. But I really enjoy this thing that I get to do. It’s a gift.

What’s next for you in your career?

I’ve been writing a new act. I said, “What’s the new title? ‘More Standards and Stories!’” Original right? Right now there’s a story about my mother that’s a particular standout. I have a great story about my father that I haven’t told, so I’m thinking about that.  The template and structure is so strong that you can plug in new things, and it’s gonna be great.

The Krasnoff Theater at The Tilles Center presents “Tony Danza: Standards & Stories” on Dec. 2 at 7:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Get tickets at tillescenter.org.

The Suffolk presents “Tony Danza: Standards & Stories” on Dec. 3 at 8 p.m. Get tickets at suffolktheater.com.