Mario Cantone is known for his hilarious character work on shows like Sex and the City, as well as his popular standup routine. But New York theatergoers will also recognize Cantone from his powerful theatrical performances. This Memorial Day weekend, Cantone is coming to the Bay Street Theater and Sag Harbor Center for the Arts to perform How Long Has This Been Going On? featuring the music of George Gershwin, Cole Porter, Harold Arlen, Roger Miller and others. Joining Cantone onstage is Jerry Dixon, Cantone’s husband and longtime creative partner.
Originally commissioned by Lincoln Center, the show features the couple singing songs from the American Songbook. “We work together a lot,” Cantone says of Dixon. “He writes all my original music, but this is the first time we’re performing together onstage. [Bay Street] will be the first time we’re doing the show again. It’s very loose; we just kind of put it together. There’s some funny patter between us, we sing. I’m glad we’re doing it again!”
Dixon is a theater veteran, having performed in the original casts of shows including Once on This Island; Five Guys Named Moe; Bright Lights, Big City; tick, tick…Boom! and If/Then. Dixon has also directed productions of Barnstormer, Take Me America and Great Wall, Gun and Powder, among others.
Cantone has had a remarkable stage career filled with notable roles. His credits include Assassins, The Tempest, The Violet Hour, The Crumple Zone, Love! Valor! Compassion! and Laugh Whore, a Tony-nominated one-man show he created with Dixon. Cantone has also appeared on Comedy Central in Uso Comedy Tour, Chappelle’s Show and Comedy Central Presents Mario Cantone. Recently, he starred in an off-Broadway production of A Room of My Own, which also starred Ralph Macchio. “I just finished [the play] with Ralph. We’re working on getting that to a bigger venue,” he says.
Far from the absolutely fabulous character he played on Sex and the City, Cantone prefers the low-key lifestyle to wild and crazy and notes that, though he’s not exactly looking forward to the Memorial Day weekend traffic, he loves Bay Street and visiting the East End. Cantone plans on spending his time with Joy Behar, one of his best friends, while he’s in Sag Harbor. Then he and his husband are planning on traveling to Beverly, Massachusetts, where they own property. “It’s a quaint little house,” he says. “And it’s 20 minutes from where I grew up.”
Known for being outspoken and extremely witty, Cantone is one of the few men to guest host The View on ABC (which Behar co-hosts). While he acknowledges that the show often finds itself in the middle of controversy, he doesn’t think it’s entirely fair to judge the co-hosts for their often-scrutinized statements and political beliefs. “It’s [been that way] since social media became huge. It’s blown up. As for me, I’m old, I don’t really give a f—,” he laughs. “I tweet here and there, my Instagram lies there like a dead squirrel, my Facebook I’m doing a little more of. I don’t try to be witty and clever on social media—when they read a tweet you get in trouble!”
Mario Cantone and Jerry Dixon present How Long Has This Been Going On? at Bay Street Theater, 1 Bay Street, Sag Harbor, on May 28 at 8 p.m. For more info, visit baystreet.org.
Cantone will perform his solo comedy act at Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center, 76 Main Street, Westhampton Beach, on July 2. For tickets and more info, visit whbpac.org.