During a master class at Scarsdale Public Library on the first day of spring, three-time Tony Award nominee Marin Mazzie smiles warmly at students from the neighboring Hoff-Barthelson Music School.
“It’s your time up there. Use it how you want to,” she says before taking her seat for the first of six student performances.
It’s an opportunity that’s both irresistible and terrifying, but the young women — all between the ages of 15 and 18 — rise to the occasion. Mazzie — critically acclaimed for her roles in the original productions of “Passion” and “Ragtime” and the revivals of “Kiss Me, Kate,” “Kismet” and “Camelot” — is gentle but firm with her critiques, sharing her knowledge and experience with great enthusiasm.
She’s loved musical theater since she was a child in Rockford, Ill. It’s a love that she shares with another Broadway headliner, Jason Danieley (“The Full Monty,” “Curtains”), who also happens to be her husband. Mazzie and Danieley starred opposite each other in “Next to Normal” and have performed concerts together all over the country. The couple will appear at Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts in Katonah for the first time May 14 in their show “He Said/She Said” as part of Cabaret in the (newly renovated) Music Room. (See story on Page 62.)
“It’s so funny because there are obviously a lot of couples in the business, and we know a lot of them, and some people say to us, ‘I love working with my husband, wife or partner,’ and other people are like, ‘I don’t like it at all.’ So we’re definitely in the ‘I love to work with each other’ [category]…
“I think the first concert that we did when we were together was with either the San Francisco Symphony or the Boston Pops. It was a symphonic concert that we were hired to do, and we started to think, ‘We should do this more.’”
And that was exactly what they did.
“There was a songbook series, the American Songbook series started in New York. Ira Weitzman asked us to put a show together for the concert series — this was like 2004 or something — and we had talked about doing that. But we’d each been doing shows, separate shows and, you know, we were busy. But we committed to doing it, so we had to put the show together. And that was also our first album, ‘Opposite You.’”
It was a dream realized for the couple. After that initial concert, they only wanted to do more. Perhaps more important, audiences wanted them to do more, too.
“And now we’ve sung with orchestras all over the world.”
For “He Said/She Said” at Caramoor, they’ve again created a show featuring American classics.
“We chose songs to fit our love story. And what’s kind of really great about the show is you’re going to hear songs… that are real standards that you kind of know, but when you hear them in the context of us talking about, or us sort of dialoguing about how we met, or past loves before we got together, you hear these lyrics in a different way and I think that’s one of the things that we love doing. We’re very much about the lyrics….If you’re not connected to that and don’t get that (emotion) across, then sort of, what’s the point? That’s my view of it.”
Mazzie knows exactly how to express a feeling to an audience and that’s due partly to her ability to pull from real-life experiences. In May of 2015, she was diagnosed with stage four ovarian cancer and battled it for the rest of the year before going into remission in January. In-between several surgeries and rounds of chemotherapy, Mazzie continued to perform.
“I never thought of stopping, even with it. I felt very positive that I was going to recover. I also have to give huge credit to my doctors at Memorial Sloan Kettering for their support and their positivity. My amazing surgeon said to me, you know, in like one of our early, early times together, ‘You’re going to be singing for many years.’”
That optimism buoyed Mazzie and her family.
“So much of it is your mental attitude. I really truly believe that. I really truly believe that the mind/body connection is great, not that you can will it away, because obviously I needed the help of doctors and medication. I’m not saying I didn’t have my dark moments, ’cause, of course, you have to, but for the most part it was just a forward-going motion….”
During the Q&A after the students’ performances, Mazzie laughs at the irony of the situation: She had a performance that evening, right after she’d gotten the news and had to sing “Life is what you do while you’re waiting to die,” as part of the show “Zorba!” But she didn’t let that thought get to her.
Amid the challenge, life handed her a new and exciting opportunity. “Literally at the exact same time, they asked me to do ‘The King and I..” Mazzie takes over the role of Anna from Kelli O’Hara at Lincoln Center on May 3 — proof that no matter what the circumstances, the show must, and will, go on.
Marin Mazzie and Jason Danieley perform “He Said/She Said” at 8:30 p.m. May 14 in the Music Room of Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts in Katonah, Girdle Ridge Road. Tickets are $225, $150 and $75. For more, call 914-232-1492 or visit