Tony Danza is a man of many talents. Boxer-turned actor with hit shows under his belt, like Taxi and Who’s the Boss?, he has graced the big screen and the Broadway stage. These days, Danza is a song and dance man, as comfortable doing a soft shoe as he is crooning into a microphone. He brings his show, Standards & Stories, to the Ridgefield Playhouse on Oct. 27. Backed by a four-piece band, Danza is witty and stylish, performing songs from the Great American Songbook while sharing stories from his charmed life. If you miss his show (and we don’t recommend it), Danza co-stars in Netflix’s new original show, The Good Cop, alongside Josh Groban, which debuted in late September. Andrea Valluzzo spoke with Danza about his show and his new series.
Andrea Valluzzo: When did you become a song and dance man?
Tony Danza: About 25 years ago, I had a bad accident and hit a tree skiing. When I didn’t kill myself and was not paralyzed. I had this conversation with myself about what I had done, hadn’t done, what I would like to do going forward. One of the things I wanted to be was a song and dance man because I could tap dance. That gave me the license and I’m Italian so I like to sing. I just put an act together and then I went about learning how to do it. And it takes 20 years to get good at it. You play all sorts of places like the Playhouse and it’s wonderful but then you sing a ballad as the roller coaster goes by sometimes. The only way you can get good at it though is to have those kind of experiences.
AV: Describe your show.
TD: It’s self explanatory. It’s songs, standards that I happen to love that I think are a little bit off the beaten path, and they are wrapped around stories, both personal and professional, that hopefully are funny and evoke a certain emotion. I tap dance and I do bring out my secret weapon — the ukulele.
AV: George Gershwin or Cole Porter?
TD: It’s too close to call. I like songs from both of them.
AV: Favorite song to sing?
TD: I love them all. I got a chance to sing a song [The House I Live In] at the 75th anniversary of the USO, the great organization that entertains troops in the war zones. I liked singing it so much that I put it in the show. I think it’s the definitive song about America and the American people. It’s apropos at the moment.
AV: You’ve done TV, Broadway, film … What haven’t you done in your life?
TD: I wrote a play. I’m trying to get it produced here in New York. It’s a one-act play, a dramedy about a family: two brothers that are estranged, and a mother that is estranged from one of the brothers and a family secret I can’t divulge. It’s funny and touching and hopefully relatable so I’ve been trying to get that done.
AV: Tell us about The Good Cop.
TD: The thing that makes it so great is the writing. You can be the greatest actor but if you don’t have the writing, you are in trouble. We got some great writing because the writer and creator is Andy Breckman, who created and wrote Monk and wrote for Saturday Night Live and the David Letterman Show. I’m just really lucky. We wrote 10 great episodes and I am excited for people to see them.