(Long Island, NY) This past weekend I had the pleasure of being invited to interview Broadway/Film and Stand Up Comic Mario Cantone at the Space at Westbury. The Space is a historic multi-facet concert and event venue located at 250 Post Avenue, Westbury, NY 11590. The Space is in the heart of Nassau County, just two blocks south of the Northern State Parkway.
Mario Cantone is an accomplished stage and screen actor but we all know him best as the adorable sarcastic character of Anthony, Charlotte’s wedding planner in the film “Sex And The City.” Below is my interview with Cantone
Broadway/Film and Stand Up Comic Mario Cantone with TV Host/Entertainment Journalist Cognac Wellerlane at the Space at Westbury on Saturday November 23, 2014.
Not only are you an accomplished stage actor, you also appeared on Broadway in the role of “Buzz”
Mario: Yes I replaced Nathan Lane in that role. That was Terence McNally’s award winning dramatic comedy “Love Valor! Compassion” It won the Tony Award. I have done five Broadway shows. That was my first one. It was all down hill from there. No, I am kidding. It was such a great role. I was young, oh my God.
And you also played “Stephano” in Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” at the Public Theater.
Mario: I played with Patrick Stewart. We did the whole play in a pit of sand. I was wiping sand out of the crack of my ass every night.
What made you want to be in show business? Was it something that happened in your childhood?
Mario: Yes I needed attention. I needed to be loved. I needed to make people laugh because you know when you are trying to make your mother laugh your whole life and she rarely does you kind of continue on that path.
So that is how it started from when you were a little kid?
Mario: Yeah I was always doing school theater. But the first time I was ever on the stage I was in Kindergarten and we were on the stage, I will never forget it; I sang “America The Beautiful.” I believe it was that and I started to cry. They had to take me off the stage. I was terrified. I came home and my mother said “Why did you cry,” and I said “Because I was on stage with a bunch of untalented illiterate children, that’s why.” No that’s not why, but after that you couldn’t get me off the stage.
Do you still get stage fright?
Mario: Yes I am always terrified.
I am amazed that you are doing the interview right now ‘before’ the show.
Mario: I am amazed too!
You must love me
Mario: I do I adore you with your white hair. I want to wear it later.
Do you have a specific role that you loved doing; a role that you have fond memories of doing?
Mario: I think weirdly enough it was a play called “The Violet Hour.” It was my third Broadway show. It was a play by Richard Greenberg. It was a role that was written for me. It was a beautiful play but it was a terrible production, unfortunately. It didn’t get great reviews but it was something about the character that when I let it go it was very traumatic. And it was a tough experience because the reviews weren’t good and you know, one of our leading ladies was drunk on the stage and they had to drag her in the middle of the first act, you know, it was pretty intense.
It was not Anthony from Sex And The City?
Mario: Anthony, I feel like goes on. If they do a third movie, which they are talking about and I hope they do, I don’t know, I haven’t heard anything, Anthony goes on so to me I feel I haven’t let that go yet. This was a play that I did, and from the first time, and when I let it go it was very emotionally difficult.
Maybe someday you can do that character again in a better production.
Mario: Yeah in a walker! Let’s do it that way, when I am in a walker.
Tell my audience about this production that we are going to see this evening.
Mario: It’s my new one man show which I hope to get to Broadway soon.
So you are trying it out here first at the Space.
Mario: We are touring it around a little bit and around the country.
I know you were talking about it on Wendy Willliams Show. I interviewed Wendy, she is lovely.
Mario: She is a lot of fun. She is the Mae West of daytime television. I tell her that all the time.
So what am I?
Mario: You are more like Goldie Hawn.
Really, I like that.
Mario: Yeah I like that and I am your daughter!
Mario: I am trying my one man show with the four piece band. Hopefully when the show goes to Broadway the band will be bigger.
And more exciting?
Mario: Well this band is really good but we want to have more brass. It will be nice to add some brass because it is going to be a bit of a swing show. I called it Mario Cantone’s Swings Both Ways.
Cantone has performed his irreverent stand-up comedy at a wide range of venues, including Carnegie Hall, where he warmed up jazz great Shirley Bassey. He has done many performances including the Atlantic City’s Borgata, Atlantic Club, Headlining at Gotham Comedy and Caroline’s on Broadway. Over the years his routines have included musical parodies of Judy Garland, Jim Morrison, Peggy Lee, Bruce Springsteen and Liza Minnelli.
Cantone got his start hosting the local New York children’s show Steampipe Alley where the comic slipped in sly pop culture innuendo that adults could enjoy. His other television credits include appearances on Late Night with David Letterman, Jimmy Fallon, Oprah, Martha, The Today Show and through out it’s 15 year run, multiple appearances on ABC’s The View.
For more information on Mario please visit http://www.mariocantone.com
I also had a lovely chat with Executive Director Bruce Michael in the Green Room right before the show.
Executive Director of the Space at Westbury Bruce Michael with TV Host/Entertainment Journalist Cognac Wellerlane on Saturday November 23, 2014.
Tell my audience more about the Space At Westbury.and why you became involved.
Bruce: The Space at Westbury is the former Westbury Movie Theater. The site was a movie theater which had closed down in the late 90’s. The current owner of the building Cyrus Hakakian found the property. He was originally going to turn it into a retail and apartment complex and decided at the very last minute after touring the theater again going through with a flash light that it was an incredible space and he decided to rebuild the entire building to accommodate concerts as well as special events. We have a lot of private parties here. We do everything from Bar mitzvahs to Sweet 16 parties. We had boxing here last week. We also had a car unveiling for Porsche. So the Space is quite amazing. It says what it is suppose to do as a concert hall and an event center.
But why did you want to be involved?
Bruce: When I met Cyrus and I saw his passion and his excitement and his vision, you know it is not everyday that you meet someone that has an amazing vision to turn a building into what this has become. We met and we started collaborating. It started in May of 2012 and in October of 2013 we finally opened. I was present through the whole construction process. It’s very exciting.
You know I had two dreams in my life and I accomplished one already. From the time I was a child I wanted to be the producer of the Radio City Music Hall and I got that opportunity in 1989. I was the Vice President and Creative Producer for the Radio City Rockets for fifteen years. My other dream was to work with a theater that needed to be rehabilitated and brought back to life and then I met Cyrus. That was an extraordinary opportunity to take this old movie theater and turn it into the Space at Westbury.
The Space at Westbury completed the installation of state of the art lighting and sound systems combined with flexible seating plans. It is truly the perfect venue to experience concerts, live entertainment and celebrity performances. The Westbury Theater now enters a new chapter of its illustrious history as The Space at Westbury.
For more information please visit http://thespaceatwestbury.com
TV Host/Entertainment Journalist and Columnist For The LongIslandExchange.com interviews Actor/Comic Mario Cantone and Executive Director Bruce Michael at The Space At Westbury.