Categories: Arts Music Pop

Broadway vet Jason Mraz on the road with new album

Ever since he strummed acoustic on the San Diego coffeehouse circuit nearly two decades ago, double-Grammy-winning folk-popper Jason Mraz thought he learned everything he could about entertaining an audience — like how to tweak the subtly tropical hooks in a worldwide smash like “I’m Yours” into a joyful sing-along.

But that was before his eye-opening, 14-week run on Broadway earlier this year, playing Dr. Jim Pomatter in Sara Bareilles’ musical version of the 2007 film “Waitress,” at her personal request. She starred opposite him for much of that time.

Mraz, who plays Berkeley this week, touting his new sixth record “Know.” (carefully crafted as a feel-good panacea that skirts Trump references) first noticed the Xs dotting the stage when he arrived at New York’s Brooks Atkinson Theatre last fall. Each represented a directorial mark he had to memorize, he learned. “Or places to get to, places to arrive at in your dialogue that can then evolve into a song that the band is waiting to begin; it was much harder than your typical concert rehearsal, just learning what I’m supposed to show up and do.”

His “Waitress” debut last Nov. 3 was a disaster. “I forgot to go on,” he sheepishly admits. “There were so many things I had to remember, so I’m just sitting in the wings, watching this scene, when I notice that I’m supposed to be in that scene, so I had to run onstage, which got a big laugh because my character is quite clumsy.”

He’s glad the gaffe happened Day One. It kept him prompt, prepared, and precise for the rest of his run. He learned trade tricks, too. “If a cellphone rings in the audience, you can say, ‘I told you to hold all my calls,’” he says.

At 18, Mraz had visited New York to attend a music theater school, but quickly tired of the thespian life. Instead, he perfected his lazy, Brazilian-flowery acoustic sound and defined on his 2002 bow, “Waiting For My Rocket to Come.” He’d been friends with Bareilles for a decade, and sung two tunes on her 2015 non-cast recording “What’s Inside: Songs From Waitress.”

“Then she called again and asked if I would consider singing those songs in the production,” he says. “I never saw it coming, never had a clue.”

Until then, the fedora-sporting artist was content with his “Family Guy” cameo, where he — having been identified by Peter Griffin — drolly responds, ‘I’m not Jason Mraz. I’m just a guy in a hat.’ He sighs. “I’m still just a guy in a hat, and some days I do feel like a parody of myself,” he says. “But it’s not a bad hat to wear, and it’s not a bad gig. And I’m really grateful.”

IF YOU GO
Jason Mraz
Where: Greek Theatre, 2001 Gayley Road, Berkeley
When: 8 p.m. Thursday Sept. 13
Tickets: $59.50
Contact: www.ticketmaster.com

Tom Lanham

Recent Posts

PETA demonstrates against leather outside Levi’s headquarters

Campaigners with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals demonstrated outside Levi's corporate headquarters near the Embarcadero to protest the…

2 hours ago

Mystery backers of Trauss, Johnson drop $100k into D6 race

A cool $100,000 just dropped like a thud into the hotly contested District 6 supervisors race, aimed squarely at taking…

4 hours ago

Athletics demolish Angels in record-setting 21-3 rout

By Alex Hall Special to S.F. Examiner OAKLAND -- The Oakland Athletics have one of the five best offenses in…

6 hours ago

Elderly woman struck by flatbed truck dies in second SF traffic death this week

A 75-year-old woman struck by a flatbed truck in Bernal Heights has died, according to the Medical Examiner’s Office. Marlene…

6 hours ago

Richard Sherman kept out of practice with heel injury

SANTA CLARA -- At first, it looked as though Richard Sherman was just taking a veteran's day off, walking around…

6 hours ago

St. Ignatius hires new head varsity baseball coach Brian Pollzzie

The St. Ignatius athletic department announced on Thursday that they have hired the new head coach for its varsity baseball…

7 hours ago