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At The Ridgefield Playhouse February 26

Mario Cantone is an irresistibly alluring Broadway, film and TV actor, singer, songwriter and humorist. Cantone will be appearing at the Ridgefield Playhouse (80 E Ridge Rd., Ridgefield, Connecticut) on February 26, when he will be presenting his “On the Way to Broadway” touring engagement.

Celebrated primarily for his role as the wedding planner on the popular “Sex in the City” show and films, he has been a captivating co-host on “The View” and entertains the masses with his contagiously funny celebrity impressions. The audacious comedian will be showcasing his hysterical brand of stand-up witticism infused with song and surprises.

Get Out! was able to have a candid conversation with Cantone and found him rivetingly funny and very humble. You’ve seen him on TV, you know who he is, but do you really know what he’s about? Here is your chance to find out. He’s worth the effort!

So you will be performing at the Ridgefield Playhouse?
Yes. It’s my second time there. I did it three or four years ago, and I remember it being really great. I love the place; it’s beautiful. It’s intimate, it’s nice and it’s close to New York City, which is what I love!

“On the Way to Broadway” is the name of the show. What can people expect? Do you just open your mouth and say whatever, or is it pre-written, rehearsed?
No. People know my one-man show “Laugh Whore”; it’s in the vein of that. It’s a one-man variety show. I have a band, I have an opening number, I do stand up. I bash reality shows, because I hate them! I hate them and my connection to them and how I’m offered a lot of them. Celebrity observations and music and impressions, and musical impressions. Liza will make an appearance, Bruce Springsteen makes an appearance, Judy Garland comes back from the dead and makes an appearance, so it’s a big mish-mash of musical, comical variety. It’s pretty edgy here and there. I’m not Florence Henderson, although she’s been a dirty girl. I know her. That’s what it is. I think last time I was there it was still the same show, but this has a lot of new stuff.

I interviewed two comedians the other day who randomly mentioned you and were absolutely crazy  in love with you.
Really? And I guarantee you they were heterosexual men.

Not at all. They were gay.
They were gay male comedians? Well, that’s nice to know.

Anyway, they had just seen you in your off-Broadway play.
Yeah, I did a play called “Steve” directed by Cynthia Nixon.

They told me that they thought you were very underrated as an actor. They said as an actor you are so fabulous. Do you think you’re underrated?
YES! As an actor I do. As a comedian, I think it’s one’s opinion. I think that the people that love me, love me, and the people that don’t, don’t . You can’t please everybody, and it’s a good thing too. As an actor, I do think so, and that’s why I did it. I mean, Cynthia Nixon asked me to do it. I played opposite my husband, which was great.

Your husband is hot, by the way.
Isn’t he though? Actually, February 6 we are doing the Lincoln Center, “American Song Book,” together. We’re doing a concert together, which we’ve never done before. He’s got the voice; I just belt like Ethel Merman. He’s got a real beautiful voice.But I did that play to get back into it, and I had a great time. It was fun. And yes, I’m underrated as an actor! But when you’re a personality it’s tough to prove. I’ve done five Broadway shows, one of them being my one-man show. And I’m doing another play, another off-Broadway play with Ralph Macchio, called “A Room of My Own.” It’s an Italian American comedy that’s really funny. Really, it’s a great though. You make no money, but it’s something that I haven’t done in a while, and I need to. I’m glad I’m doing it. I miss doing it. I love the new group, the theater company that did it. So you tell those young gay comedians that I appreciate the respect. I love the theater. I forgot how much I missed it. You make more money on television, but you wait around a lot. In a play you just go do it every night. The cast was amazing too.

It’s got to be exhausting though.
Well, this one wasn’t. I wasn’t the engine of the play. Matt McGrath was tremendous. I played his best friend. I had a really good role, but I’m used to being the engine of a play, which can be exhausting. Since I haven’t done a run of a play in 10 years, I figured, let me ease back into it. The next play I’m kind of much more of the engine of the play. I’m glad I stepped into something gently first.

When does that when begin?
Well, it’s only for a month. It’s at the Abingdon, which is an off-Broadway theater on 36th Street in New York City. It begins February 13 through March 13, and then I’m off on vacation again. As soon as I’m done with the job, even if it’s a job for a week, I must reward myself.

Wait, didn’t you just get back?
No, I’m in New Orleans now, and I’m going back tonight. I’m in a town called Covington, Louisiana. Then after the other play, we’re going to Sonoma.

You have accomplished so many things. You are a Broadway star, a television personality, a movie personality, a comedian, a singer, a married man. Is there anything in life that you still wish to achieve?
Yeah, I’d like to have a series. Even if it is a drama, I don’t care. I did a pilot called “It’s a Man’s World” with Don Johnson and Ellen Barkin, and it was so good, but NBC didn’t pick it up. It happened about five years ago. Everything happened five years ago, because I really don’t know when anything happened. … And I’d like to do a run of a play. But you see, when I do a play, I don’t want to do it for a year. I’ll do six months. A year is like “Groundhog Day.” It’s like, “I’m doing this again.” You get those Broadway stars like Nathan Lane; he gives them a year. He’s amazing; there’s nobody like him. But that’s what I like. I’d like to do a series where I am a regular, where I have a contract, and where I’m making a little money. I talk about reality shows; that’s the stuff that I get offered, but no, I won’t do it.
If you were forced to watch all of the reality shows except one, which one wouldn’t you watch?
That’s an interesting question. Probably “The “Housewives.” I think they are ridiculous. The Jersey ones are all Italian. How embarrassing. And it’s interesting, because all of the networks, even the cable networks, even the high-end and low-end cable networks, are not interested in a scripted Italian American comedy. Nobody. Which is why you can’t name one. There are many Italian comedians like myself who try to do it, but they’re not interested. But they will put them on television, and make them look like freaks, flipping over tables and stabbing each other with butter knives. I mean, it’s ridiculous. Too bad.

Growing up, who is the artist that inspired you?
Growing up I loved Steve Martin, Robert Klein, Lily Tomlin, Richard Pryor, George Carlin. Those are the ones that I really liked. They were magnificent. I used to go see them when I was a kid. I would nag  my cousins or my teachers to take me. Those were big influences.

Besides your next play, do you have any long-term future projects?
I don’t know. I have the play. I’ll probably tour around more with this show. I should really get it in shape so I could get it to Broadway. That’s probably next, hopefully. And if not, I’ll just kind of take it as it comes. Pilot season is coming up, and hopefully I’ll have some auditions for some pilots. That would be nice. They are this month and next month. I have some meetings with some people at Warner Bros. But it’s all a crap shoot. I take it as it comes, and I don’t worry about it like I used to. We’ll be fine no matter what. I’ll just walk down the street with my head high like Lana Turner testifying for her daughter.

Any chance of doing fire Island?
No, I don’t think so. You know, I’m too old for Fire Island. I haven’t been to Fire Island in so long. You know, it depends. It depends on the situation. It depends on the space. I don’t like clubs; I like the theater. Just stepping on a stage in a club horrifies me.

They have a nice theater in the Pines now.
Do they? Sure, I would, if the deal was good. It’s in New York, it’s not far. Sure I would.

What advice would you give your younger self?
RUN! Don’t do it! The advice I’d give my younger self is, I probably shouldn’t have been so picky and so choosy, because I had no right to be. Although, I still am sometimes. Now that I’m older I really can be. When I was younger I should have probably done more things. There were things that I said no to that I should [have done]. I also think that I would tell myself that everything is going to work out fine. Just keep doing it, people like you, and just keep performing. I think the thing is that I am a personality. I am an actor, but most people know me as a personality. When you come up in the ‘80s and you’re gay, you are giving up about two-thirds of your work. Now it’s changing, thank God, a little bit. I don’t know any other gay male comedians. I mean, Jason Stewart does well, but where are they? It’s very hard for them. It’s hard for them, especially the men, to do just straight stand-up. I’m not talking about the drag performances. I’m talking about straight stand-up. It’s hard for them, because a lot of gay people don’t go to comedy clubs to see stand-ups. So therefore they’re not going to see gay comedians. It’s really tough for them, and I have a very mixed audience. A lot of my audience is straight. It always has been. The gays don’t come out. Luckily I crossed over to that, which is great. But when the gays come to see me, and they’re forced to sit down and watch me, it’s usually really great. I did a show in Florida, and they were very mixed, and it was amazing. The majority of my audience, especially in New York, are straight. I think the further I go out, more gay people do come. But I’m glad it’s mixed. I love it that way. I wouldn’t want it any other way. I would like more gays to come and see me. They don’t really know what I do. They see me for two minutes on “The View” or two minutes of “Sex in the City,” and they don’t really know the scope of what I do as an entertainer on stage for an hour and a half. So I beg all of the Connecticut homosexuals to come to the Ridgefield Playhouse!

 

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