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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, February 7, 2020 - Volume 48 Issue 06
Mario Cantone appears in new musical Bliss at 5th Avenue Theatre
Arts & Entertainment
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Mario Cantone appears in new musical Bliss at 5th Avenue Theatre

by David Edward Hughes - Special to the SGN

BLISS
5TH AVENUE THEATRE
February 6-23


Probably best known for his role as Anthony Marentino, the wedding planner/Charlotte's confidante on the uber-popular HBO TV series "Sex and the City" (and two subsequent films) and on Netflix this year in a hysterical turn as Alma Joy on "AJ and the Queen" opposite RuPaul, actor Mario Cantone is constantly in a New York state, or at least New York City, state of mind.

The chance to work on the new musical Bliss at the 5th Avenue Theatre with one of his bestie's, Director Sheryl Kaller, as well as having extra time with his bi-coastal spouse, Jerry Dixon (the current Artistic Director at Issaquah's Village Theatre), is what lured him to the Emerald City.

Engaging, warm and outlandishly funny are words that come to mind from my time spent chatting with this man who upon judging a Miss America pageant a few years back said: " It's overwhelming. I feel like I'm in some gay to straight conversion therapy right now!"

David Edward Hughes: Hi Mario. Welcome to Seattle. I became a fan of yours when I saw you in the show-stealing role of Buzz in Love! Valour! Compassion! on Broadway, shortly after Nathan Lane left the cast.

Mario Cantone: Can you believe that was twenty-five years ago? Yes, Nathan had done it off-Broadway and opened the show on Broadway. I went in after about a month and a half when he went to Hollywood to film The Birdcage. When they made the film of L!V!C! Nathan wasn't available. Our director, Joe Mantello was given a list of names by New Line Pictures, which I definitely wasn't on, and they cast Jason Alexander. I was thirty-five but I looked too young at the time anyway.

DEH: How did Bliss come about for you?

MC: I did workshops of three different musicals and this was the one I chose. It's great! It's brilliant! Best score I've heard in a long, long time. The writers are amazing. Sheryl, the director's one of my best friends. We went to college together and she directed me in a musical back then, so we've known each other for forty years. It was the perfect storm, because I'm a recluse and I like to stay home. It's a great role pretty much written around me. The cast is great! They're all around thirty and that's really annoying! I keep telling them wait till you're old. You're all immortal, now!

DEH: What can you tell us about your role?

MC: I play Sir Pincus Glimmermore, who is 500 years old and working for the Royals a long time. He's the fairy godfather, kind of, to four highly marriageable princesses. He's funny, crazy, flamboyant elegant, and interesting. I don't want to tell you too much. And the 5th Avenue is a great theatre. It's like an opera house, I feel like I should sing opera. I don't sing opera, but I discovered opera 10 years ago. I always say 50 plus gay equals opera!

DEH: It must be nice to have a place here to stay with your husband Jerry.

MC: Yes, he has the place here and we have the place in New York. He's a Tony awards nominator this year, so he's back and forth a lot. But I'm glad he's here while I'm doing this.

And this is a fabulous city. With great restaurants, and I love to eat! The Walrus & the Carpenter (in Ballard) their chef Renee Erickson is out of this world! And on 12th Ave, we have Canon, there's no place like it even In New York, a mixology bar with food unlike you've ever had in a bar. General Porpoise donuts are to die for, and they will kill me one day! I love the food here. I just gotta stay away from the fucking donuts and fucking ice cream! Then it's just sodas and coffee. Thank god coffee's low calorie!

DEH: What role have you played that you were surprised to have been cast in?

MC: In Assassins at Studio 54, I was sure Joe Mantello wanted me for Guiteau, a very flamboyant character but instead he cast me as Sam Byck. He said "Read those monologues. No one will be able to turn them like you!" So, I said okay. And we had a great time.

DEH: What play or musical would you like to do at this point in your life?

MC: The play I want to do is Neil Simon's The Prisoner of Second Avenue. I did a reading of it with Pam Adlon from "Better Things" on FX, which I'm actually going to be on in March, but there were rights issues. I still want to do it though. But a musical? Well, I wanna do Mama Rose in Gypsy.

DEH: Why did I know you'd say that?

MC: I know. I'll do The Act. That great Liza Minnelli musical!

DEH: But meanwhile, I'm so looking forward to seeing you create a new role in Bliss.

MC: I'll see you opening night. Thanks so much, I appreciate your time.

Tell a friend:

 

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