Broadway star Marin Mazzie, who played the role of Clara in the original 1994 production of Passion, has died at the age of 57 from ovarian cancer.
Mazzie, who was nominated for a Tony as Best Featured Actress in a Musical for her role in the Sondheim-Lapine show, finally succumbed to the cancer she was diagnosed with in 2015. The news of her passing was confirmed by husband Jason Danieley, with whom she often performed in concert.
In March 1989, prior to her starring in Passion, Mazzie had taken over as Rapunzel in the original Broadway production of Into The Woods. But it was her performance as Beth in the La Jolla Playhouse revival of Merrily We Roll Along in 1985 that really brought the actress her first big break – even though she feared she had screwed up her chance when auditioning with "Not A Day Goes By" in front of the composer-lyricist.
"That was fine," said Sondheim during her audition, "But you sang 'And there's hell to pay.' It's 'So there's hell to pay.'"
In an interview with Opera News, she recalled: "I thought I didn't get the job. But I did, and Steve taught me how to sing that song. When Beth is standing on the courthouse steps getting a divorce, and this man has betrayed her, he was singing it for me. When he got to the line 'Not a blessed day…,' he said, 'Not a fucking day.' And I thought, oh — yeah."
Following Merrily and Woods, Mazzie was cast as Clara in Sondheim's new show Passion. And her opening scene, in which she cavorts with an equally naked Jere Shea, raised many an eyebrow, and left audiences wondering where they both kept their radio-mic packs! It also prompted Vincent Canby of The New York Times to report that she and Shea were "in the great shape necessary to carry off a nude love scene... a lovely post-coital duet in celebration of physical beauty and the happiness that physical love can bestow, but far more briefly than either realize."
Mazzie secured a Tony nomination for the role, and went on to earn two more nominations – for Ragtime (1998) and Kiss Me Kate (2000).
Other major shows included Next To Normal (2010) – in which she appeared with husband Jason – and Bullets Over Broadway (2014). She continued to work following her cancer diagnosis, and most recently took over from Kelli O'Hara in King and I.
For Sondheim fans, she will also be fondly remembered as one of the ladies in scarlet who sang at Sondheim's 80th Birthday Concert with the New York Philharmonic at Avery Fisher Hall alongside Patti Lupone, Audra McDonald, Bernadette Peters and Elaine Stritch. As a tribute, here she is singing "Losing My Mind"...
And a personal favourite of mine, Mazzie and husband Danieley – the "naughtiest couple on Broadway" – singing "We're Gonna Be All Right" from Do I Hear A Waltz? by Sondheim and Richard Rodgers:
Marin Mazzie, 9 October 1960–13 September 2018