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Each Day Is Valentine's Day

Three theatrical couples talk with Michael Buckley about combining romance with showbiz.

"Don't change a hair for me/ Not if you care for me / Stay, little Valentine, stay / Each day is Valentine's Day." So ends Larry Hart's lyric to "My Funny Valentine," first sung in the 1937 Rodgers & Hart musical Babes in Arms by a gal named Billie to a guy named Valentine. Since then, the song has become appropriate -- especially in February! -- for all lovers. As they celebrate along with jewelers, florists and chocolatiers, we asked some show business couples to share their feelings about each other and to tell us how they make it all work.


Marin Mazzie and Jason Danieley
(Photo © Michael Portantiere)
Marin Mazzie and Jason Danieley first met nearly 10 years ago. "It was in May 1996, on the first day of rehearsals for The Trojan Women: A Love Story," Mazzie remembers. "By opening night, we were dating," says Danieley, "and we were married in October 1997." Since then, they work together whenever possible -- in concerts, musicals, and cabarets. Their next New York engagement will be at Feinstein's at the Regency, May 1 and 15.

Their two best-remembered Valentine's Days occurred when Mazzie was appearing in Kiss Me, Kate and Danieley in The Full Monty -- on Broadway and, later, in London. In New York, she recalls, "It was dinner at Daniel, a French restaurant, where Jason and I had a five-hour dining experience." In the West End, Danieley liked being showered by "Marin's Valentine's cards -- filled with bawdy British humor." This year, they plan to celebrate at home with their miniature schnauzer, Oscar Yappy (named for Oscar Jaffe in On the Twentieth Century).

Some people mispronounce the couple's surnames. Says the lady, "Mine is Italian and is pronounced MAY-zee. Jason is not Italian, but everyone wants to make him Italian. They say Dan-YELL-ee. It's actually DAN-yuh-lee, which is Irish." When they're not working together, the two seem to have an unwritten clause in their contracts that they must work with Brian Stokes Mitchell: Mazzie is Lalume in the Encores! production of Kismet, her fourth show with him; Danieley played Lt. Cable ("He was wonderful!" exclaims his unbiased wife) to Stokes's Emile De Becque in a Carnegie Hall concert presentation of South Pacific last year. (The concert, which was taped and will be telecast on April 26 as part of the PBS "Great Performances" series, also starred Reba McEntire as Nellie, Alec Baldwin as Billis, and Lillias White as Bloody Mary.)

Do they have a formula for combining married life and their careers? Danieley defers to his wife, who insists, "Our relationship comes first. Obviously, there are times when we have to be apart; but we also have sometimes not taken work so that we could be together. When we talk to young people who are just getting into the business, we tell them, 'It will never make you happy. It's a business of highs and lows. There are many wonderful moments, but you always want more -- and you always have to find another job.' I feel blessed to have found my life partner. That is my focus; Jason is what truly makes me happy."

Having co-starred in Candide (in San Francisco), 110 in the Shade (in Pasadena), and Brigadoon (in L.A.), there are at least three other musicals they'd like to do together: Romance/Romance, I Do! I Do!, and Sunday in the Park With George. Meanwhile, Mazzie and Danieley may be heard on their CD Opposite You, and they invite everyone to visit their brand new website:


Orfeh and Andy Karl
(Photo © Joseph Marzullo)
It was during the run of Broadway's Saturday Night Fever that Orfeh met Andy Karl. She co-starred in the show as Annette; he was a replacement in the role of Joey. But each already had been told about the other by a mutual friend, hair and wardrobe supervisor Jon Jordan. Recalls Orfeh, "It was a great ice-breaker." Adds Karl, "Five-and-a-half months later, we were engaged -- and we eloped two weeks after that."

They celebrated their fifth anniversary in January. "That's when we do all the romantic stuff," Orfeh reveals. "For Valentine's, we get lots of movies, hole up in the house, and eat junk food." Last Valentine's Day was their most memorable thus far; they celebrated by getting iPods. "He got me a pink mini and himself a regular, guy-style one," she says. "Forty gigs," he boasts. Orfeh continues, "We're both tech-heads. We sat around until four in the morning, uploading songs. We ordered pizza and champagne. It was so much fun!" Dinner out is among this year's plans. Orfeh also intends "to eat a lot of chocolate" while her husband foresees "raiding the fridge," where the couple has stashed "quite a few bottles of champagne that we got as opening-night gifts." "And closing-night gifts," his wife chimes in, laughing.

Orfeh legally dropped her surname a decade ago. Footloose marked her Broadway debut; Off-Broadway's The Great American Trailer Park Musical is her most recent credit. Having appeared in episodes of Sex and the City and Law & Order: Criminal Intent, she is currently concentrating on work in TV and movies: "It's such a different experience than theater," she remarks. "I really enjoy it. I'm taking a lot of meetings and auditioning."

Karl recently went from being one of the Altar Boyz to playing the title role in the musical Slut to appearing in the Elvis Presley revue Hunka Hunka Burnin' Love at Au Bar. He's also a composer and has become a member of the musical theater writing workshop at BMI. Says Karl, "It makes me really appreciate people like David Yazbek [Dirty Rotten Scoundrels], and Larry O'Keefe [Bat Boy]. I've been doing workshops for Legally Blonde, for which Larry's written the music." According to his wife, another of Karl's talents is "building things from scratch. Except for the toilet bowl, he built our whole bathroom."

The pair is always on the lookout for the chance to work together. According to Orfeh, "We've taken jobs that we probably wouldn't have taken otherwise, just for the opportunity to sing together. We're very supportive of each other; we know exactly what the other person is going through at all times." Her husband concurs, saying, "We're fans of each other; we give each other pointers." Never competitive with one another, each is pleased when the other's career flourishes. "If she makes a million dollars with an album," Karl muses, "I'll be glad to fix the terrace." "And I'm very willing to let Andy get the big TV series and make the fat paycheck," says his spouse. "I'll be happy to go shopping!"


Greg Naughton and Kelli O'Hara
(Photo courtesy of the couple)
Art imitates life. As Babe in The Pajama Game, Kelli O'Hara is immediately attracted to the show's leading man; offstage, she had an instantaneous reaction to Greg Naughton. "The moment I saw him, I fell hard!" she exclaims. While Naughton's acting credits include the title role in a well-received Off-Broadway production of Golden Boy, he has lately been working with his band, Greg Naughton and Stark Naked Sole.

The couple's matchmakers were Sherie Rene Scott and spouse Kurt Deutsch. "They're two of my best friends," says Naughton. "Sherie knew Kelli, and they invited her to come to a show I was doing. They told her, 'You can just watch; you don't have to meet him.' " "Sherie had a feeling," explains O'Hara, who didn't accept the invitation "for about four months." The two were engaged just before Christmas -- "almost exactly three years from the day we met," she observes. "He got the ring by himself and planned the entire evening, which was quite romantic."

Since her Pajama Game schedule gives O'Hara Tuesday nights off, this Valentine's Day will be the first that the couple will be able to celebrate together. "It's always been thwarted by shows and things," Naughton says. They plan a romantic rendezvous at the Northern Spy Cafe, a New Paltz, New York, eatery which, he says, "is a special place to us." Though the date for their nuptials is not set, Vermont is the likely place. "I went to school there," relates the groom-to-be, "and we have friends and relatives there. Kelli was a fan of Vermont before we ever met. Whenever we get a chance to get away, that's where we go. We love it a lot!"

O'Hara was a Tony nominee for her performance as Clara in The Light in the Piazza, but out-of-town she had played Franca, the Italian sister-in-law -- "I wore a dark wig and lots of makeup" -- and she says, "To be honest, I felt more related to the sister-in-law. Nobody sees that, because I look like Clara; but I like to play more assertive roles like Franca and Babe. I'm having a blast in The Pajama Game." Says Naughton of his work with his band, "It's not so much that I have given up acting as I've been a singer-songwriter, and traveling around doing that. I used to run a theater company, the Blue Light. But I love to write music, so I thought I'd change my tune for awhile." (He also plays guitar and piano.)

What's their take on balancing a relationship with their careers? Naughton: "We try very hard to make mutual time off sacred, when we won't accept any offers to do benefits or readings. But that doesn't always work." O'Hara: "What's so wonderful about Greg is that he understands this lifestyle because he grew up with it. [His father is two-time Tony winner James Naughton.] We both work nights, but we spend a lot of days together." And, as Larry Hart wrote, "Each day is Valentine's Day."


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