Much like a Beatle, Darren Ottati is famous for his music and his hair. But this classically trained tenor doesn’t sport a bowl cut. When he’s not on stage performing with his quartet, Ottati is working as a popular hairstylist at Gayle’s Beauty Salon, his Hampton Bays business.
Ottati returns to the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center (WHBPAC) stage on Sunday, February 11 for what is shaping up to be another sold-out performance. This one is an afternoon of show tunes, love songs and dreamy ballads, which he promises will warm your heart. Offering numbers including “Endless Love,” “Love Me Tender,” “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” “Almost Like Being in Love,” and “My Funny Valentine,” the theme is evident.
Ottati says that this matinee timeslot “opens it up to the older generation who can’t drive at night—they love the standards.” You can also catch Ottati every Sunday at 11 a.m. at St. Rosalie’s Church in Hampton Bays. A local, Ottati joined the choir about five years ago. He admits to being “a big fish in a small pond,” but stresses that he joined the choir to be a part of the group, not to focus on solos. He says, “Everybody in my church’s choir has an amazing voice!” In fact he met the two women who will perform with him at WHBPAC through St. Rosalie’s Broadway Voices group.
As he says, “love songs must include duets.” He notes that soprano Jenifer DeMeo is “super–young and going to be very famous one day” and that soprano “Laura Laureano has a beautiful, Broadway powerhouse voice. They’re just spectacular singers.”
When Ottati was seven years old, he realized he could sing. He went on to perform in high school musicals, to win the Long Island Teen Talent contest and to study music at the State University of New York at Purchase. Broadway and television auditions followed. Twenty years ago he formed the Darren Ottati Quartet, which he refers to as “the band.” Together they happily “play clubs, restaurants, and as many parties as we can.”
Ottati is a busy man, a kind man who often donates his time to area fundraisers. Playing the Beast in the Southampton Cultural Center’s March production of Beauty and the Beast is indeed “a big stretch.” Ottati prefers singing to acting because “acting is not my passion.”
Clearly, singing is his passion. He cites Adele, Michael Bublé and Josh Groban as some of his inspirations. He says, “I listen to everybody—Broadway, pop music. I’m currently addicted to Calum Scott, [who sings] unique ballads.”
What is Ottati thinking about when he belts out ballad after gut-wrenching ballad on stage? He says, “It’s funny, it depends on the ballad, but I try to relate it to personal experience. Everybody can relate to love songs because we’ve all had ups and downs. I’m really a lyrics person. Nothing excites me more than having beautiful lyrics and singing them with clarity. Most people want to hear [the songs] clearly. That’s why many people enjoy my concerts.” Adding, “I love my life, it’s simple. I work, I sing.”
You can hear Ottati’s buoyant voice on YouTube, but far better to enjoy it in the flesh. Darren Ottati & Friends play the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center Sunday, February 11 at 3 p.m. Tickets and more information can be found on whbpac.org.