By Michelle Trauring
“Real men don’t like musicals,” they say. Manly-man culture doesn’t allow it.
But this is an outdated mode of operation and, at least anecdotally, more men are stepping out of their comfort zones and away from it. The stereotype is slowly dying in the United States, though the number of male Broadway attendees is still hovering around just 30 percent, as it has for years.
While Darren Ottati does not expect to change it overnight, he will push it along for one weekend — more specifically, Father’s Day weekend — with an all-male revue of Broadway songs at the Southampton Cultural Center.
“It can be hard to get guys to come — not all guys, but a lot. Most of the time, the wives come with their girlfriends and their mothers and sisters. So I figured, if we did a show with all of the songs by men, it might be something people could do with their fathers,” he said. “I think guy-guys don’t really go see Broadway theater. It’s a tough thing for somebody to get them to see. I hope it’s getting a little easier.”
Ottati can’t recall exactly when he began singing, or even the first Broadway show he saw, but he knows he’s been infatuated with both for a very long time, he said.
“Oh my God, I’ve seen probably every musical on Broadway — or a lot of them, I shouldn’t say all,” he said. “For this show, ‘Boys of Broadway,’ I spent hours and hours and hours listening to every musical known to man. I, literally, Googled ‘musicals,’ listened to every single show and found songs that I loved from different shows.”
The 17 leading male songs represent 15 musicals from the 1930s to present — from “Guys and Dolls,” “Damn Yankees” and “South Pacific” to “Beauty and the Beast,” “Les Miserables” and “Finding Neverland.”
While some of the songs are recognizable from the first note, there are several ballots that will be new to everybody in the audience, Ottati said. He guarantees it.
“My favorite song in the whole show is a song called ‘’Till I Hear You Sing’ from the sequel of ‘Phantom of the Opera’ It’s just a gut-wrenching ballot. This is one of those songs that nobody’s gonna know,” he said. “The show is called ‘Love Never Dies,’ but it didn’t do that well on Broadway, so it wasn’t around long. This song is just an amazing ballot.”
In a mix of solos and group numbers, the Hampton Bays native will perform alongside David Michael Cress, Tom Rosante and Jack Seabury with a six-piece orchestra. It is a concert that goes back to basics — its costume changes kept to switching hats — and, at its core, a benefit performance for the Southampton Cultural Center.
“This is a not-for-profit theater. When they come see the shows, all the money that is made goes back into the theater. It goes into the next production, into improving the theater,” he said. “You can see shows all year round at a local theater. That’s what’s great about this theater. It’s local, they use people from out here, and I just want people to come to that theater more — men and women alike. The more they come, the more money we raise and the more things we can put on at this theater.”
“Darren Ottati: The Boys of Broadway,” a benefit concert also featuring David Michael Cress, Tom Rosante and Jack Seabury, will stage on Friday, June 16, and Saturday, June 17, at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, June 18, at 2:30 p.m. at the Southampton Cultural Center. Tickets are $45 and ringside table seats are $55. Light refreshments and beverages will be served. For tickets and more information, call (631) 287-4377, or visit scc-arts.org