A few days into rehearsals for Next to Normal, Marin Mazzie and Jason Danieley marked 14 years of Togetherness. They met on stage as mythological lovers Dido and Aeneas in the second act of The Trojan Women: A Love Story, an eccentric Charles L. Mee take on Greek lore, and they have been a couple ever since, officially tying the knot 16 months later.
The two have since traded in their Olympian grandeur for something more suburban with the Pulitzer Prize–winning Next to Normal. They play Dan and Diana, heads of the typically atypical Goodman family.
"[It's] so well written," Danieley says of the pop–rock score by Tony winners Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey. "It's alive from moment to moment. It's constantly changing. It's a play in that way."
Although they have successful careers separately, Danieley and Mazzie often make beautiful music together — in cabarets (via an act they created for American Songbook), on CD ("Opposite You") and on stage (as Lizzie and Starbuck in 110 in the Shade at the Pasadena Playhouse and Fiona and Tommy in L.A.'s "Reprise" of Brigadoon). "We sing together all the time," says Mazzie. "But the opportunity to play husband and wife in this is exciting.... To be able to look into his eyes and sing those things — I don't know how I'll get through it, quite frankly."
"We've been wanting to do a show together on Broadway for some time now," adds Danieley, "but we wanted it to be the right one. If there was anyone in the city that I would choose to do this show with, it would be with Marin."
Both are veterans of domestic wars on stage, eminently qualified for this homefront conflict. Mazzie was the insult (and pottery)-hurling shrew in Kiss Me, Kate, while Danieley got his "training" in the Encores! version of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn as Johnny Nolan — "a likable Irish drunk who can't keep his family together because of his alcoholism."
Of late, Mazzie has displayed her acting chops without uttering a note, most recently (and fleetingly) in Enron as the lady-executive who kicked butt with the big boys, and last summer as Blanche DuBois in Barrington Stage Company's A Streetcar Named Desire.
In fact, the actress sees the bipolar Diana as a latter-day extension of Blanche. "When the play starts, it's 19 years into their relationship and 16 years into her being diagnosed bipolar. The strain on the marriage and the family is very extreme by this point."
Danieley sees Dan as a rock starting to crumble. "I think he's at that breaking point. The emotions are so right there on the surface that Dan just can't keep it up."
Normal should do a lot to redefine the couple to their liking. "I tell people that I am an actress first," says Mazzie. "An actress who just happens to be able to sing."
"You just happen to be able to sing extremely well," her hubby gallantly interjects.
"Thank you, honey," she purrs back appreciatively. "So do you."