Josh Groban’s tour comes to the Masonic in San Francisco. (Courtesy James Dimmock)

Magic-minded Josh Groban takes on show tunes

In his parallel life as an actor, operatic-timbred vocalist Josh Groban never shies away from zany roles. He played Miss Piggy’s love interest on a recent episode of TV’s reboot of “The Muppets” and did a poker-faced vocal rendition of Donald Trump’s Tweets on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” a few weeks ago. He will also be appearing in John Krasinski’s upcoming directorial debut “The Hollers,” playing a witty small-town reverend. But for his latest album and tour, “Stages,” the 34-year-old got serious about his lifelong love of Broadway, covering musical classics like “Over the Rainbow,” “Try to Remember” and “You’ll Never Walk Alone.”

As a kid, you actually considered becoming a magician, then a veterinarian?
I mean, who wouldn’t be interested in veterinary medicine and magic simultaneously? I feel like those are two of the rare positive beams of light in this crazy dark world.

What drew you to magic?
It’s like that movie “The Prestige,” where they say, “You killed all these clones of yourself. Why did you do it?” And he just goes, “It’s the look on their faces.” I liked magic for the same reason that I love theater — for the reaction, that sense of wonder, and getting somebody into a place that was different from their reality for a minute. I just loved being able to create that for someone.


The magician David Copperfield would regularly pick up a random audience member and fly with them in his arms onstage. And they would end up crying, having no idea how he did it.

That’s the art form. We live in such a cynical world now, more than when David had TV specials where he’d walk through the Great Wall of China. It was pre-Internet, we were Reddit- and Twitter-free, and we were still sort of good people. But we’re living in an age now where everybody’s got it all figured out, and everyone’s smarter and more cynical than everyone else. So when it can be done well, something like magic or theater can – just for a small moment in time – bring us back into that childhood wonder that we’re all lacking now.

Did you get into musicals as a kid, too?

I did, I did. I really attribute it to my parents taking both my brother and I to see shows in Los Angeles. One of the first shows I ever saw was a VHS cassette of “Sunday in the Park With George” when I was 10 years old. And I remember just being transfixed by it.

And you’re also dating actress Kat Dennings, a truly otherworldly beauty?
Indeed. That’s very true. And that’s another thing that takes people into a sense of wonder!


IF YOU GO

Josh Groban
Where: Masonic, 1111 California St., S.F.
When: 8 p.m. Nov. 3-4
Tickets: $60.50 to $175
Contact: (415) 776-7457, www.livenation.com

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