The newly formed Furness choir is performing alongside Tony Danza at Northeast High, where the star has been teaching for an upcoming reality show.
All smiles and wearing dress pants, a winter jacket and shirt, Tony Danza and an entourage of A&E producers walked into Furness High School’s auditorium Jan. 14, where the choir was rehearsing.
“Hi, I’m Tony Danza,” the 58-year-old actor/singer/dancer said to the 10th- through 12th-graders and their music teacher Ryan Miller, who was at the piano.
Perhaps the famous star of the hit comedies “Taxi” and “Who’s the Boss?” felt the need to introduce himself because the kids before him were barely out of diapers when his sitcoms first hit television.
Danza dropped by to give the students a pep talk and see how rehearsal was going for the show “ExtravaDanza!” set for 7:30 tonight at Northeast High School, 1601 Cottman Ave., where the star has been co-teaching English to 26 sophomores since August for the reality show, “Teach.” The Brooklyn native holds a bachelor’s degree in history education from the University of Dubuque.
The 30-student Furness choir will perform “Seasons of Love” from “Rent” in the musical/dance show that will have the star tap dancing and singing. Students selected the song they wanted to perform and have been rehearsing daily since the fall. Pupils from George Washington High, 10175 Bustleton Ave., and Northeast also will be singing a Broadway number and taking the stage between Danza’s numbers.
“They are definitely excited,” Miller said. “They are really looking forward to singing. Most of these kids, they have never sung in choirs before. It’s a new, exciting experience.”
Tenor Chaun Evanson, 19, from the 1700 block of Conestoga Street, can’t believe he even met Danza last week much less be in his show.
“My mom, she is the reason I know about Tony Danza. My mom and dad watched ‘Taxi’ and we have ‘Angel in the Outfield’ [starring Danza] on VHS,” Evanson said.
Seeing the star walk in the auditorium made the teen “very nervous. My palms were sweaty, my knees were shaking,” he said with a laugh. “I never thought I’d see Tony Danza or any type of star.”
Fellow tenor and senior Kavon Cooper, 18, from Sixth and Wolf streets, had a similar reaction.
“I was mesmerized because it was Tony Danza. I had butterflies and stuff,” Cooper said.
The teen said watched “Taxi” in reruns and, though he’s never seen “Who’s the Boss?,” he’s heard of it. In addition to those shows, Danza had a New York-based daily talk show called “The Tony Danza Show.”
In the fall, Furness, along with students from Northeast and Washington, were selected by Danza and A&E producers to participate in “ExtravaDanza!” after all three schools were in the running for the filming of “Teach.”
Last spring, Danza and producers visited Furness, 1900 S. Third St., to scout the location, Principal Tim McKenna said.
“We toured the school and talked about all the exciting things going on here,” he said.
But the star and his crew decided on Northeast. McKenna said he doesn’t know why Furness was selected as a contender nor why it was passed over, and the School District of Philadelphia did not return phone calls to the Review.
Despite not choosing Furness for “Teach,” Danza made a promise to the school — something that impressed its principal.
“He made a commitment to stay in touch with us and work with us to support our school even though he was not going to be filming ‘Teach’ here. We’re just excited about [‘ExtravaDanza!’]. It’s a unique opportunity for our students.