This week’s blog post is part 1 in a Q&A series with Marin Mazzie and Jason Danieley. Marin and Jason will be honored with the Founders Award for Empowerment at CSC’s Spring Celebration next Thursday. Known as, “Broadway’s golden couple,” Marin Mazzie- a Tony-nominated veteran of the Broadway stage, and her husband and fellow Broadway performer Jason Danieley, worked together to support each other when Marin was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in May, 2015. Equipped with her optimism and strength of will and the love and support of her devoted husband, Marin was back to performing last December, and will assume the role of Anna Leonowens in The King and I this coming May.
Q: Marin, what was your initial response when you learned you had cancer, and Jason, what was your initial response to learning Marin had cancer?
Marin: The day I found out I had cancer I was opening in the City Center Encore’s production of ZORBA playing “The Leader. I had spent the entire day at MSK meeting my amazing surgeon, hearing his thoughts and scheduling the next many months of my life including my first surgery. I walked from MSK to City Center and just took in all the information I had been given and when I got to my dressing room I started my prep, vocalizing, putting on my make up etc. My character begins the show and I stepped onstage and sang “Life Is What You Do While You’re Waiting To Die”. I was in a lot of pain from the Ascites, the fluid that had built up in my belly, but I knew the adrenaline and focus that I have had my whole performing life would get me through, and it did. After the run was finished (Encore’s does just 6 performances) I concentrated on getting well. My surgeon had said to me that I needed to take care of myself as I was going to have many years ahead to perform. I feel as if I took on my healing as I would any role I was playing. I poured my heart and soul into all that I needed to do to make Marin well again. From the minute I found out I had cancer I became incredibly focused on this journey and although it wasn’t the journey I thought I was going to be on this was the one that had been given to me and I was determined to fight it the best way I knew how which was with a very positive attitude plus the incredible love and support from my amazing husband, family, closest friends, therapist and my team of Doctor’s at MSK. I learned to truly live one day at a time and to do what I could ( or couldn’t) do on any given day. I would go out on the days I felt like it, even go to the gym but there were days I did just lay on the couch because that was all I could do. The important thing was to accept how I felt each day and go with it. “It Is What It Is” became one of our favorite sayings and still is.
Jason: My initial response to Marin getting cancer was “wow, we didn’t see this coming. Can we get into Memorial Sloan-Kettering? (Our hospital of choice) What do we do?” (Proverbial rolling up of the sleeves).
Q: How has consciously making the decision to create a unified front against cancer affected your relationship as a couple?
Jason: I like that phrase, “consciously making the decision to create a unified front against cancer”. I guess we did, in some way, but it is something that we inherently and instinctively chose to do as well. It has brought us closer together. It has caused us to listen to each other more clearly and to pay attention to the very specific needs of one another. You’ll notice I’m not saying that it’s just me who is learning how to listen and pay attention. Marin has been an incredible partner through this. She has been as keenly aware of my needs as I to hers. Damn, I’m lucky.
Q: If you could each choose a song from the world of the theatre to describe this journey, which would it be and why?
Jason: A song from the Music Theatre that I would choose to describe this experience would be from Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s Sunday in the Park With George “Move On”. “Stop worrying where you’re going, move on. If you can know where you’re going, you’ve gone. Just keep moving on. Look at what you want, not at where you are, not at what you’ll be. Look at all the things you’ve done for me. Opened up my eyes. Taught me how to see, notice every tree, understand the light, concentrate on now.”