In the Fall of 1998 Tony was busy preparing a symphonic Christmas show as well as another annual New Year’s Eve symphonic show when he was invited to New York to read a script for a proposed Broadway musical play about Maurice Chevalier. To give his reading more authenticity, Tony began to research Chevalier with his assistant Marna Petersen, and together they began to see a different Chevalier than the one portrayed in the script. In January Tony traveled to New York, read, sang, and took all the accolades. The Tony/Maurice fit was obvious. The producers kept Tony in the mix and looked for a new script.
Tony continued to view the Broadway project with open mind, but by the summer of 1999 Tony let the producers go their own way. They had not come up with a suitable script, were seemingly more intent on using Tony’s personal connections to fund the project, and apparently brought nothing to the table. His assistant was by now deep into the Chevalier research. So Tony asked her to write the script for him. While studying Chevalier’s career and film clips Marna noticed many uncanny similarities between Tony and Maurice. She recognized that she needed to pull Tony into the script as himself so that his personal charisma could accurately convey the enormous charm and appeal of the great Chevalier. They began on-
Meanwhile, in the summer of 1999 New York producer Jeffrey Moss was organizing the U.S. leg of an international tour of a multi-
In late fall of 1999 Tony joined the touring Lido La Tournée Champs Élysées. The show included a cast of 50 accompanied by 30 staff and crew. But for all its extravagance, Tony discovered that the production was “canned” – music and lights were computer driven. Though the performers were live, their sketches and encores were forced to follow preprogrammed accompaniment, and they had no opportunity to respond authentically to the audience. Tony’s entre act performances with spotlight and piano accompaniment were simplistic compared to the lavish costuming, sets, sound, lighting, and choreography that characterize the Lido sketches, but his role became increasingly significant. Tony had the on-
The turn of the new millennium was accompanied by widespread fears of potential “Y2K” disruptions that were expected to cause unknown catastrophes at midnight in a world now dependent on the efficiency of computers. Undaunted by this, and still committed to New Year’s Eve at the Minneapolis Hilton, Tony flew to Minnesota on December 31, 1999 in time to ring in the New Millennium with a gala performance. His ease and performance on this memorable night provided exactly the balm that was needed, and those in attendance will never forget how Tony transformed a night filled with apprehension into one of warm and joyous human bonding. Accompanied by a symphony orchestra, Tony closed his concert with John William’s stirring, America, The Dream Goes On. When he began to sing his encore, everyone in the house stood and joined him in singing perhaps the most heartfelt rendition ever of What A Wonderful World. Early the next morning Tony flew to Atlanta to rejoin the Lido cast for their New Year’s Day performances.
As Maurice & Me tours continued in 2000, Tony was offered another contract with The Lido’s second New Millennium Tour. He toured with them through the U.S. during the winter of 2000-
Tony again turned to his assistant whom he knew he could rely on to write an elegant script. Marna wrote the show based on personal memoirs Maurice Chevalier had written in his book, “My Paris.” The angle opened the door to not only Chevalier’s material but also other music for which Paris is known. Ironically this book had been given to Tony on his 40th birthday, with the inscription, “May your special talent be loved and remembered by as many people as those who loved this man.” They entitled the show Chevalier’s MY PARIS. Work continued on the arrangements and the script throughout the summer, fall, and winter while Tony toured. Marna sent lead sheets to Peter as they were ready, described Tony’s interpretations of the music, noted Tony’s requirements, and kept Peter posted on how the songs and underscoring were to be worked in with the script.
The events of September 11, 2001 also sent a 911 call to the entertainment industry. The immediate drop in funding for the arts that followed the shock and tragedy of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York seemingly left the American theatre world in disarray. Tony found this amazing, given a quite different and proactive reaction from theatres in Europe during both World Wars. The shocking but also market-
Tony then diverted his energies toward preparing for the MY PARIS premiere. Peter Matz completed his arrangements, and with the score and script finalized, Tony was ready to begin rehearsals upon his return to the United States. MY PARIS proved to be Peter’s last work. Peter had planned to attend the first read-
Events surrounding the debut of MY PARIS in February of 2003 were disconcerting, and even though the historical ebb and flow of international relations now seemed to work against him, the experience reinforced Tony’s belief in the power of entertainment to build public confidence and morale in times of tragedy. For two centuries the friendship between the French and the Americans has resembled a passionate tango, and the fact that Franco-
As Tony headed for Dallas and the premier of MY PARIS with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra at the Meyerson, this country was on a “high alert” and the U.S. invasion of Iraq was imminent. A couple of days earlier the Columbia space shuttle had ripped apart during re-
After that premier Tony was so delighted with the ambiance the accordion parts added to MY PARIS that he added them to Maurice & Me. Marna brought in a couple of sketches from MY PARIS because the material worked so well in Dallas. With each new performance and experience, the team of Tony and Marna honed the precision, accuracy, and appeal of Maurice & Me.
An auspicious break for Maurice & Me came in the spring of 2005 with a short run at the newly restored and extraordinary beaux-
“The impact of Maurice & Me on audiences has been astounding,” says Tony. “It’s uplifting – that’s new, and old-
Throughout the development of his show about the legendary Maurice Chevalier Tony had no contact with the Chevalier family, nor was he aware that any of the Chevalier entourage were still around. So it was a totally unexpected and amazing surprise when François Vals, secretary and right-
Tony was thrilled by the contact and the endorsement. He called François Vals who proceeded to rave for half an hour over the phone and confirmed to Tony that Maurice’s personal story and the history as presented in Chevalier-
Throughout his career, part of Tony’s strength and appeal has been his ability to communicate with and appeal to international audiences, and to sell a song in any language. In the U.S., Tony’s audiences recognize that je ne sais quoi, that special charisma that sets Tony apart both on and off the stage. He was a dashing heartthrob in Europe, the debonair and very sexy compliment to Sandler & Young, and he has matured into a confident and handsome star that continues to captivate the imaginations of women and men, young and old. The package does not betray the content, for when Tony sings, his message goes straight to the heart and melts audiences.
Tony enjoys diversity. He currently has 5 different shows that he is performing: MY PARIS is a unique celebration of Chevalier’s beloved hometown. It is sensuous and grand, especially with full orchestra, and is as much a delight to the ear as it is for Tony to sing. CHEVALIER-
Tony Sandler’s Great International Songbook is a mix of Tony’s standard repertoire. Whether performing a cabaret show, or singing with big band or with symphony orchestra, these showsdemonstrate Tony’s amazing vocal versatility and style, leaving audiences transformed and wanting for more. During a recent run at the exclusive Colony Hotel in Palm Beach, radio personality Dick Robinson remarked that he was totally amazed and enthralled with Tony’s professionalism, sincerity, authenticity, and vocal ability. “Audiences are hungry for the quality of entertainment that Tony so effortlessly provides.” At these shows audiences experience the full richness and diversity of Tony Sandler’s voice and repertoire.
In Concert – Tony Sandler Sings Jacques Brel features Tony’s unique prowess with his powerful interpretations of the French, English, and Flemish songs written by his countryman. In Come Spend Christmas With Me Tony is joined by a boys choir to sing a diverse and delicious collection of international Christmas carols and holiday songs with unique and stirring arrangements that Tony has been acquiring since childhood. Tony’s early experiences of singing in boy’s choirs left a fondness in his heart for that crystalline sonority that distinguishes their music. “This is a warm and heartfelt show that brings people together to be entertained with music that is heard only at this time of year,” assures Tony. “I am not fond of the parodies and ridicule so often heard in today’s holiday shows, and in this age of political correctness I’m not afraid to say Christmas.” The music speaks for itself.
Always expanding, Tony is currently pulling together material for a recording that concentrates on his favorite songs from Yves
Montand’s repertoire, planned to be recorded with Ludo Mariën on accordion. “These are wonderfully written songs that I fully enjoy,” says Tony. “I even sing them to myself while I’m driving or while working in my studio or shop.” He has not performed them since he left Europe in 1963. But with the resurgence of enthusiasm for French music, he feels they will be especially well received. Tony admits that ever since Sandler & Young broke up he placed his focus on live shows, and has few recordings of his recent work. Fans clamor for CDs, hoping Tony will provide.
Over the years Tony has been infatuated with his American audiences and he appreciates with all humility the affection they are not afraid to display. But at the same time he feels a warm attachment to Europe and his homeland, Flanders. In 2006 the city of Kortrijk threw a party to celebrate Tony’s 50-
Belgians are delighted with Tony’s recent release of his Anthology of Flemish Art and Folk Songs (Een Bloemlezing: Vlaamse Kunst & Volksliederen), a three-
Now a citizen of the world, this Son of Flanders still has a seemingly bottomless well of talent and creativity that draws from the same aquifer of Flemish artistry that produced the likes of Van Eyke, Van Dyck, and Rembrandt as well as countryman and musical poet, Jacques Brel. Strong as ever after years of entertaining, Tony Sandler’s art is to weave rich tapestries of song with colorful romance languages blended with the versatile textures of his warm baritone voice. He has an ever alluring charm, a relaxed elegance and wit that captivates his audiences and leaves them richer for the experience.
When asked why he continues to work when obviously he could retire in excellent health and comfortable luxury, he replies, “I have always been compelled by the challenge of being as good as I can be, and by the work and sacrifice necessary to achieve that. I have always been a singer – that is what I do. I am an interpreter of songs and love doing that. I know how to entertain people and they enjoy it as much as I do. I have no reason to change all that. I love my life. I am a very fortunate man!”
When Tony was only in his twenties, in Berlin, he went for a stroll between recording sessions and by chance stopped by a palm reader’s stall. The mysterious and beautiful Gypsy took his hand and said, “You will be in the New World at 33 years of age, starring…” On August 18th, 1966, his birthday, Tony opened at the New York Plaza’s world famous Persian Room to a sell-
Tony and his wife Mimi have three daughters (Valerie, Natalie, and Stephanie), with six grandchildren, and one great grandchild. Out of respect for Tony’s desire to preserve the privacy of his family, this biography focuses solely on Tony’s career and the circumstances that have influenced that career.