Marin Mazzie succumbed to ovarian cancer this past week. At age 57 her death is a loss to the Broadway theater world.
I was first introduced to her five years ago when she filled in for Linda Eder at 54 Below. The exceedingly talented Marin Mazzie, a familiar figure on Broadway stages (“Next to Normal,” “Passion,” “Kiss Me, Kate”), made a striking entrance dressed in pink sequins. She invited everyone back to her house in Rockford, Ill, when she was ten. That’s where her personal music chronology began. Her parents would dance and she shadowed their every move.
Through her music she weaves the story of her teenage years in the 70′s when she longed to be “the long lost Partridge,” referring to TV’s “The Partridge Family.” “I loved boys with feathered hair and guitars” – her two idols: the Monkees’ Davy Jones and David Cassidy of the Partridge Family. “I used my purple brush as a microphone to sing back up to the Davids.” Her rendition of Cassidy’s “I Think I Love You” was a sunny burst of energy. Her powerful deep voice and dynamic stage presence were evident from the top of the show. It was theater and pure top quality entertainment enhanced by Dave Phillips on bass, Larry Lelli on drums, Larry Saltzman on guitar and Joseph Thalken, her musical director and arranger on piano.
Mazzie’s amusing stories – her huge commitment to pop music when she joined the Columbia Record Club for 99 cents and her clever substitution of ooh’s and aah’s for unapproved lyrics to avert a crisis at her Catholic high school after being chosen to sing a mass to bless their class rings. Her selection of novelty songs (“Come On A My House”) as well as familiar romantic tunes (“I Can Only Give You Love,” Midnight On The Oasis,” and “Weekend in New England”) triggered rich memories for anyone growing up during those years.
No convincing necessary when she belted out “I’m A Believer” while simultaneously dancing and playing the tambourine.
“I still wish David Cassidy would come,” she told me wistfully after the performance. Perhaps, she’ll have to settle for her childhood friend, Bob Greenblatt, (now Chairman of NBC) who played piano for her in high school and hasn’t missed an opening. Praising her talent, he insisted that she hasn’t changed since those more innocent days.
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